WORDEATER 59 STAFF:
Jill Compton, Virginia Fenili, Robin Mc Williams , Patricia
Shue, Steve Siedler, John Stobart, Michelle Ureche
In order to get a selection published in this issue,
four of the above had to vote for acceptance.
For the award winners, only John Stobart is responsible.
Ordinarily, WORDEATER awards $25 for prose, $25 for
poetry, and $10 each for front and back cover art.
Often, these prizes are awarded to single contribu-
tors. Since John Stobart felt that several people
submitted worthy entries to WORDEATER 59, the prose
award, this time, is shared by four individuals,
and the poetry award is shared by two, as follows:
$5 each to:
$5 each to
C*L $20 to Judv Belfield
Manuscripts or cover designs for
WORDEATER ^0 must be submitted to
John Stobart in room C-1069 by:
April 16, 1987
Manuscripts will not be returned
and SHOULD BE TYPED.
April 16, 1967
All copyrights are retained by
the authors and materials may not
be reprinted without their
W. A. Kahle
Judy Self i eld
W. A. Kahle
Ruth Bo sard
W. A. Kahle
One Fall Day 1
Poem To Sweep By 1
A Chilly Autumn 2
Winter scape 2
In The Heaviest Silence 2
Somewhere In The Night 3
Masturbation And The Male Adolescent3
Wolf At The Door 5
Staring Eyes 5
Pass The Potatoes 6
The Collectors 6
Exploring The Cosmic 9
At The Sound Of The Beep 10
The Folkies ik
I Hated Mrs. Metzler lk
Pete Rose Ain't Got Nothin' On Me — 15
If People Were Ageless 20
Optic Nerve 20
Images At My Window 21
Parallel Lines 21
If There's No Fire, What's The Rush2U
Firelight Eyes 25
Mis sing Me 28
Je Me Cherche Par Tu 29
Intimate Strangers 29
Hear The Music -31
The Desire To Race 31
Ace ept anc e 35
Don't Trust Me 35
No Other Year Quite Like It 36
POEM TO SWEEP BY
Think, boy, think,
You could be the head of the link,
If you could link your think to
I really must go, sir.
For I won't link my think to
Think, son, think,
If you could drink,
And sip a risk,
From the knowledge
Of the floppy disk.
I really will try, sir.
1100011 110011 1001001
I really must fly, sir.
Yt e i_ l
W. A. Kahle
ONE FALL DAY
burning up the dawn
chill a whispering spirit
into active movement
floating through the meadow
on a squirrel's cry
while the sun peeks
behind grand greenery.
A leaf falls
with indelible grace
tickling the brows
of one silent witness
one fall day.
Sorry, son, sorry,
I didn't do my best.
I let you off easy,
Didn't put you to the test.
You jest, sir.
A COMPUTER'S thought is strange.
One this and zero that,
There doesn't seem to be room in my hat
Yes, child, yes.
You will not try.
You want everything given,
You want all the best buys.
For this, boy, I can't heln you.
No amount of return will help you
In this venture.
You must see it in yourself;
The fire must burn deep.
For, if you find on the shelf
An emptiness, do not weep.
A CHILLY AUTUMN
IN THE HEAVIEST SILENCE
thinking of you
reminds me of some year-old
corsage salvaged from an ill-remembered
it is vacant of any color,
one , dropping
in the heaviest silence,
a wet tear trickled
down her neck,
cold as blood,
and died on her collar,
its reminder of doom
on the edge
of the record label . .
The icebound river
Creaks and mutters as she shifts
Her winter burden.
Crimson comets soar
Among snow-laden branches
I long to join them.
along the dotted line —
ticking under a knifeblade:
the sound and fury
of once-married thoughts
to fill space
by the song of idiots
twice-trilled in darkness
at the nights' void.
Few by few
the feathers loosed
in a white ooze
like liquid poured
over a hard sky
then blown away
by gales of empty giggles
laughed by fools . . .
I can feel eternity
from its beginning to its end
as I am stretched along:
The neon Schlitz sign
Throws rosy sequins on the
an idea unthought,
conjured by a spell
of madness or
memory loss, but then
is so small
and so am I
SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT
Somewhere in the
night, sails are up
to catch the wind
as it passes by.
A shadow of the
sailboat etched into
the deep, dark blue
casts unon a visionary
image of serenity
throughout a peaceful
surrounding. Pity, when
the sun arises to
destroy the scene of
time and time again.
MASTURBATION AND THE
Masturbation can be a very sticky,
hands-off subject. No one wants to
talk about it. Very few male adoles-
cents ever admit to doing it, unless
compelled to for academic reasons or
surging, uncontrollable peer pressure.
Yet this normal, necessary function is
probably one of the most important
aspects of a boy's sexual maturation
process. A need is present to free
this subject from its societal restric-
tions. The following discourse will be
centered on and presented by a male
viewpoint. Female masturbation, an
equally touchy subject, should be pre-
sented through a female viewpoint.
(Accordingly, this author feels impo-
tent in expressing fairly the feminine
perspective within the confines of a
three to five page paper. Hopefully,
some ambitious, self-starting female
will take it upon herself to explore
the area and do a paper on her own. )
Enough forethought. Let this free-
flowing discussion begin.
There is quite a large glop of
information on this subject. Ford
defined the term most succinctly by
calling masturbation "... any sort
of bodily stimulation that results in
excitation of the genitals. It commonly
involves handling, rubbing or mouthing
of the sexual organs, or bringing them
into contact with some foreign object. "-^
The one word that Ford didn't include,
but might be considered implied, is de-
liberate. In other words, accidental
stimulation of the genitalia doesn't
count. There must be a pre-conceived
sexual feeling that the adolescent
vents release to by means of activity
other than intercourse. (The necessity
of deliberation is not an original
idea. Kinsey documented it first.
Avoidance of another footnote on page
one was the prime consideration here.
Footnotes can be so messy to an inex-
perienced typist who has an unsure hand
when guiding their placement into a
text. One doesn't want to waste all
his limited supply of opaque white cor-
rection fluid needlessly. )
It is fairly common knowledge that
masturbation is the main means of sexual
release for adolescents. The reasons
for this could be lack of a partner,
vis a vis (those French can do it so
well) lack of aggressiveness, ability
or want in obtaining a partner. For
brevity's sake, lack of a partner, for
whatever reason, is the primary reason
for this activity. Adolescents, just
having discovered this source of enjoy-
able sexual release, are going to do it,
again and again and again and (yes)
again. They will do it at least until
they find a partner. They might contin-
ue doing it after they find a partner,
but the reasons for that are too ex-
tensive and would constitute an entire-
ly different subject and analysis. -(Just
off the top of his head, this author be-
lieves narcissism is a guilty party in
that type of discussion. But since it
isn't my original idea — someone has had
to think of it before me — I don't like
it. Back to the topic at hand.)
Kinsey (Footnotes can't be held back
any longer. Be prepared for a large pud-
dle of opaque white correction fluid. )
reported that "... In the present
records, the highest-rating males were
masturbating with .average frequencies
of 23 per week in early adolescence.
These maximum average frequencies drop
IClennon S. Ford, Patterns of Sexual
Behavior , (New York: Harper & Row, 1951 ),
Masturbation And The Male Adolescent, continued
to 15 per week by twenty years of age,
to 6 per week by fifty years of age,
and to once in two weeks at sixty years
of age . . . For the active popula-
tion, average frequencies of mastur-
bation in early adolescence are nearly
two and a half (2.U) per week, but a
goodly number (11%) of the boys at
that age may average four to seven
times a week, or oftener . . .
In a nutshell, boys do it, and they do
it as much as they can. Kinsey's
data is nearly forty years old, but the
maxim still works as well today as it
did back then.
The techniques of adolescents
in masturbation can be overwhelming
in quantity and quality. Some can
even become downright kinky. Stick-
ing to the protocol of a serious
academic thesis, the techniques de-
scribed in this paper will be nar-
rowed down to manual operation of
the penis and moving the penis a-
gainst an inanimate object. The
former is basically self-explanatory.
The latter could consist of beds,
desks, typewriters, tables, chairs,
floors, rugs, cars, sinks, telephone
poles; the list is endless. Ima-
gination is the only limitation for
the industrious male adolescent
self-stimulator. And for the most
part, it is a solo sport.
Skolnick has said that, "Most
boys learn about masturbation from
other boys, rather than discover-
ing it on their own. "3 This author's
extensive research has found that
most adolescents discover masturba-
tion originally on their own; then
possibly, but no more than once or
twice, participate in group self-
grope sessions, (in the author's
opinion, extensive group self-
grope sessions would eventually
lead to entrance into the closet of
homosexuality, another entirely
different subject which cannot be
backed into in a three to five
page paper. This author is not
homosexual, nor does he claim to know
the homosexual perspective. But
he would think that the homosexual
response to Skolnick is "no girls
The significance of mastur-
bation for the male adolescent is
overwhelming and can fill volumes
of pages. Most research prior to
Kinsey linked masturbation to everything
from blindness to total mental insanity.
Today, in the post-Kinsey era, masturba-
tion is probably still frowned unon 'oy polil
society, grudgingly condoned by moderate,
middle-of-the-road society, and completely
accepted by free-thinking, progressive
society. Kinsey said it best (The last
footnote. The suppy of onaque white cor-
rection fluid is running dangerously low. )
"Millions of boys have lived in continual
mental conflict over this problem. For
that matter, many a boy still does. Many
boys pass through a periodic succession of
attempts to stop the habit, inevitable
failures in those at tempts, consequent per-
iods of remorse, the making of new resolu-
tions — and a new start on the whole cycle.
It is difficult to imagine anything
better calculated to do permanent damage to
the personality of an individual."^
(Whew. That was a long one. Time for a
little rest . . . Okay. All better now. )
In other words, guilt is imposed by so-
ciety r but should be erased for the well-
being of the adolescent. It is all right
to indulge. Just don't become obsessive
(precariously close to another topic en-
tirely). After all, it's more fun with
In summary, male adolescent mastur-
bation can be guilt-ridden,' but shouldn't
be, for the well-being of the adolescent's
psyche. Go ahead, do it. There's nothing
to be ashamed of. It's a normal sexual
release. What? You think you'll go
blind? No . . . no . . .no. Don't
worry. Everyone else does it. They might
deny it, but don't believe them. It's-
harder to feel guilty about something if
you can admit its existence. (Could this
be too philosophical? Not true to the
intent of this paper? Indiscriminate
rambling in order to fill the fifth page
in a three to five page paper? Probably.
But the author feels that writing this papei
within the confines of his current shop-
ping mall of higher education's available
2 Alfred C. Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the
Human Male (Philadelphia & London: W. B.
Saunders Co., 19U9), pp. 506-507
3Arlene S. Skolnick, The Psychology of Hu-
man Development .(San Diego: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, Inc., 1986), p. UUU
Masturbation And The Male Adolescent, continued
research material, while at the same time
not plagiarizing too extensively what
research material he has found, can be
analogous to playing with one's self —
attending JJC — as opposed to making love
with another human being—attending a
four-year university. Not to blow his
own horn, but this author does have a
degree from ah accredited four-year
state university, therefore feels he
has some knowledge, however small, on
Is this mean? It's not meant to
be mean. Just an attempt to inform
naive eighteen and nineteen-year-old
students that textbooks and instructors
of theory are not always in tune with
present-day reality. Reading and memor-
izing something is theoretically sound,
but being naid for these abilities is
WOLF AT THE DOOR
lot impossible, but very unlikely, at
least in the entry-level job markets.
Hands-on experience pays. Don't let any
self-serving pseudo-intellectuals tell
you otherwise . . . More than enough
pompous ranting has been done by this
author. Time to zip up this report.)
Once you admit it, you'll find that every-
one else is relieved just as much as
you are; they wanted to admit it, but
didn't have the courage. Adolescent
masturbation, if not too excessive,
(Watch out! Another entirely different
subject!) is nothing to worry about.
For that matter, post-adolescent mastur-
bation shouldn't be frowned upon, either.
Taking that last sentence literally,
it's time this paper came to a close . . .
Ford, Clennon S. Patterns of Sexual Be-
havior , New York: Harrier & Row,
Kinsey, Alfred C. Sexual Behavior in the
Human Male , Philadelphia & London:
W. B. Saunders, 19^9.
Skolnick, Arlene S. The Psychology of
Human Development , San Diego : Har-
court Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1936.
all the blue shades
of April afternoons
as bright as Pacific heaven
over golden verses
embroidered in the earth.
Praise the one
who brings giggles
in straw wheelbarrows ,
ladles them out
we cup in our hands ;
they trickle through
into the grass,
bounce up again
and echo ha-ha's to the distant hills
repeat the music
of Adam's grandfathers
from the first mornings
share the moment
when fear is paralyzed
like air in a balloon
just before the pop.
Chill me to the bone
Gnaw at me
Ghostly, claw-like hands
Clutch cold steel fences
Blue-boned skeleton faces
Ask why, with mouths agapin^
Before it's too late
You children of tomorrow
You children laughing
The gentle days are gone
No place to hide
Living hell is ours
Innocence is over
PASS THE POTATOES
MOTHER KNOWS BEST
I'm. afraid that I'm a victim^
Of an unexamined dictum.
For when potatoes I must hake
No chances do I dare to take.
My mother often told me,
When, on her lap, she'd hold me.
"You never know what might occur."
(I swear she said this,' just ask her)
"Potatoes can explode you see
And what a faux pas that would be
To plan to serve a dinner guest ,
Who comes , expecting all the best ,
And open up the oven door
To learn you should have baked one more!
So plan that this will not take place
But bake an extra ...just in case."
Now you may find this very strange,
But though I try, I cannot change.
So to this day this rule does govern:
One for each guest and one for the oven.
I met the Sloans a few days after
I moved, to Gilt on. While working in
my antique shop one morning, trying
to make order out of chaos , so I
could get open for business, I heard
a rapping at the window. I opened
the door and in marched a large wo-
man of about thirty-five, with the
shortest, reddest hair I had ever
"Welcome to the block. Always
glad to see another shop open. Mine
is on the corner, two doors from
you. Jack Lindquist is next door.
You'll meet him eventually. The
Sloans are across the street. They
are nuts . I'm Bonnie."
"Nice of you to come over. My
name is Louise. What do you mean,
"You'll see. This place is a
mess," she said, pushing at an empty
box with her foot. "Come on, take
a break. I'll introduce you. to them."
As we crossed the street, she
told me, "He's a retired army man, or
something, gets a decent tension, I hear.
Don't think Mrs. has been feeling too
well lately." We reached the door and she
opened it, holding it for me. As I
entered, she said, "Brace yourself."
I noticed the odor first. Mustiness
pervaded the huge building like something
alive, creeping into my nose and throat.
I sneezed. My eyes adjusted slowly to
the dimness inside after the July sunshine.
The first thing I saw was a monstrous
picture of a stalking tiger, painted on
black velvet in shades of orange and gold.
It appeared to be irridescent. That will
glow in the dark, I thought. Looking arour.
I saw an enormous high-ceilinged room that
seemed to go all the way back to infinity.
The room was packed from floor to
rafters with an incredible array of things .
Not angiques. Things. Every inch of
wall space was covered with shelves or pic-
tures. ' Shelves full of books, shelves
full of planters , the kind you pick up at
garage sales for ten cents, mostly -elastic.
Shelves were jammed with fruit jars,
crammed with lamps, lamp bases, lamp
parts, lamp shades. Shelf after shelf hel:
old and not-so-old, tarnished silverplate
trays, sugars and creamers, candle holders.
teapots, coffee pots, most of them dented,
the silver worn off. Shelves brimmed with
Tupperware, old dishes. There were yards
of shelves full of children's toys, not old
enough to be collectible, just used and
battered, lying on the shelves like forgot-
Any space not holding a shelf was
occupied by a picture. Pictures of every
size and description, frames broken, crumb-
ling. I saw artificial Christmas trees,
stands, ornaments, a few dried-up plants,
what seemed like miles of old tools , and a
bird's nest. And more books.
Most astounding of all was the fact
that this room, with its gigantic volume
of junk, was incredibly neat and clean.
Each item rested in its place, lovingly
organized, classified, arranged, and hung.
A few pieces of used furniture stood arounc
decrepit , forlorn .
Along the north wall, precisely in
the center, was an area, about ten feet
by six feet, which held a small weary-
looking sofa. A large, round wooden table
with a sawed-off base served as a coffee
table, which sat on a clean, but worn
Oriental rug. An electric coffee pot was
perking cheerfully. There were a few
dishes and a box from the bakery, next
The Collectors, continued
door." On the sofa sat a tiny, elder-
They rose and walked toward us.
Bonnie said, "Hey, you tvo, this is
Louise, the nev antique dealer from
across the street." To me, "This is
Bill and Ellen Sloan. Oh, damn!
Someone .just vent into mv shop. See
you later." We watched her hurry
across the strqet, her red cap of
hair bobbing and gleaming in the sun.
I turned back to the Sloans and
saw two very fragile, very old people
smiling up at me. They were exactly
the same size. I was sure, if put on
a scale, they would weigh exactly the
same. The similarity ended there.
Mr. Sloan's full head of black hair
was obviously a wig. His dark eyes, in
a taut, angular face darted continually,
seeming curiously tired and sad at the
same time. His fragile-looking body
arched like a bow, but he moved with
His wife was a pale wraith with
soft white hair that lay in waves around
her thin, once-pretty face. She was so
unsteady and looked so frail that I
had to restrain myself from taking her
Before we could say anything,
the door opened. A young man entered,
looked startled, then began to browse,
trying to appear nonchalant. Mr.
Sloan hurried over to him and began to
trail him around the shop. Every time
the man picked something up, Mr. Sloan
snapped, "Be careful!" The man picked up
a lamp base, checked the price tag, and
with an incredulous expression, put it
back. "Careful, careful! You
browsers. I'm going to start charging
you guys one dollar for admission.
You think this is a museum, or what?"
I admired the young man's restraint
as he silently headed for the door.
As he shot past us, Mrs. Sloan chirped
gaily, "You cone back soon, you
"Well, I really have to be going,"
I said. "It was very nice meeting you."
I needed to get out of there. That
smell. It must have been from all of
the old books. I sneezed again.
"Sit down, sit down," commanded
Mr. Sloan. "Have some coffee. Lock
the door, Ellen. I've had enough of
browsers." As she started for the
door, he said, "Never mind, I'll get
the door. You go sit down, too."
His voice became gentle when he spoke to
"How can you sell anything if you
don't let people browse?" I asked, timid-
"Can't be bothered," his voice
harsh again. "People want everything for
nothing. I'd rather keep it."
"Coffee?" Mrs. Sloan smiled up at me.
"I really do have to run, Mrs.
"Well. Come again soon, dear. I'll
show you our collections."
"I will," I promised, and made my
As the months passed, I came to know
the Sloans quite well. That they were
eccentric, there was no doubt. The sign
in front of their shop read, "Antiques,"
but an antique rarely appeared. They
just bought things. Anything. I fre-
quently attended auctions , honing to find
merchandise for my shop. I often ran into
them, at these sales. They bought every-
thing that nobody else wanted if it didn't
cost more than one dollar.
"This whole box of goodies for two
dollars, folks. Two dollars! Do I hear
one dollar?" the exasperated auctioneer
would shout. "You folks are missing the
boat ! "
"Fifty cents," Mr. Sloan would say.
"Sold! Fifty cents!" Box after box
full of old rusty cookie tins, light bulbs,
empty cigar boxes; things that should
have been trashed before the auction be-
gan. When Mrs. Sloan became tired, her
husband would load their treasures into
their station wagon, haul them to their-
shop, where they would be sorted, labled,
I often found them rummaging through
their precious boxes, exclaiming delighted-
ly at each item. "Oh, look, Bill, an
old pair of eyeglasses to add to our
collection." Or, "A birdhouse! We
don't have one of these. Let's start
I visited the Sloans often, once
I got used to the mustiness of the shop.
I grew fond of them. Mrs. Sloan was
consistently pleasant, although lately
she was becoming more and more detached
and vague. Mr. Sloan was an extremely
private man, and as long as I respected
that, we got along fine. I was touched
by his gentle kindness to his failing
The Collectors, continued
wife. I worried about them. They
seemed so . . . breakable.
It didn't take me long to realise
that they did not want to sell any-
thing. They never admitted this,
probably not even to themselves. The
antique shop was just a rationale.
Occasionally some neophyte wandered
in and bought something, in spite of
Mr. Sloan's rudeness, thinking that
because he was in an antique shop,
the item must have been an antique.
Mr. Sloan would sell the item, grudg-
ingly, then close the shop for the rest
of the day, complaining, "I have work
to do. I can't get organized with all
these browsers in my way."
It was not unusual for their sta-
tion wagon to be parked in front of
their shop, and the "Closed" sign to
be on the door all day. I pictured
them in there, sorting, sorting.
They began to spend more time there,
often late into the evening, as though
reluctant to leave collections.
I noticed, as time passed, that
Mr. Sloan was looking increasingly
tired and worried. I checked on them
every day, sometimes using the key
that I had browbeat them into giving
me. Mrs. Sloan had retreated further
into her own. world, spending most of
her day on the sofa. She smiled,
still, whenever we were able to cap-
ture her attention. Mr. Sloan stopped
going to auctions. There were still
dozens of boxes to be unpacked, how-
ever. He would drag a box over to her,
kneel and pull things out for her
to see. "Another bottle opener,
Ellen! Here, look at this. For your
basket collection," holding up a broken,
bedraggled Easter basket with a
tattered pink bow on the handle. I
watched them, wondering, How do
they find each other, these people?
Sometimes Mrs. Sloan would
laugh and reach for the treasure.
More often, she would seem to tear
her eyes from some inner scene — ■
where was she? — and look at her hus-
band with vacant eyes. Smiling ab-
sently, she would return to wherever
she had been pulled from. A^ these
times he would gaze at her, his eyes
no longer darting; just black pools
One day, I found him coaxing her
to eat. Tenderly he begged her. "No."
She pushed the fork away. I tried, not
for the first time, to talk to him about
her. "I'm taking care of her."
"I'm worried about you. You lock sc
"Don't worry." He turned away, dis-
"She should be in bed."
"She cries when I make her stay in
bed. She's afraid I'll leave her. She
says she wants to be with our things.
It perks her up to come here. For a while.
Me too. Everything we own is here. We
need to be here."
I looked around at the collections.
How many years of accumulating had there
been before they had decided to haul it all
to this building, so that they could con-
tinue to add to it? How long had it taken
Dear God, I thought. I should do
something, I didn't know what to do.
"You have got to do something," I said.
I left him, his back to me, bendina:
over his wife, stroking her hair, mur-
muring to her.
That had been the day before. I went
to bed. I managed to sink into a half-
sleep. I lay there, the humming of the fur-
nace soothing me. Each time it shut off,
I rose out of sleep, listening, waiting
for it to start again. Thoughts
of the Sloans drifted in and out of my
Not having seen their car that day, I
had assumed that they had stayed home becau.
of the extreme cold; yet I had seen a
light. It hadn't registered until later.
Something bothered me. So what, so they
forgot to turn their light off, I told
myself. I fell asleep at last.
Sunshine nudged me awake. Thoughts
of the Sloans stirring as though they had
never stopped. Maybe they parked in the
back of their shop. Why would they do
that? Stop it. Something. As I dressed,
Something pulled at me, tangible, like
annoying fingers, picking, prodding, pluck-
ing. I looked at the thermometer outside
my bedroom window. Twenty-three degrees
below zero. "I hate this!" I exclaimed
"Awwk!" said Fred, from the living
The Collectors, continued
Heading for the front window, I
absently yanked the cover from his cage
as I went by, startling him so he
teetered on his perch.
"Good morning, Fred," I grumbled.
"Good morning, Fred," he said.
I looked out of the window and
immediately felt the sensation I had
experienced the evening before, the
sense that the world had stopped. I
felt lightheaded. The aged storefronts
shimmered out of focus in the sunshine.
As though propelled, I bundled up,
feeling silly, feeling panic creep up my
body like sucking quicksand, encasing
my legs and arms, turning them into leaden
I stepped into the sunshine. I
didn't feel the cold. I walked to
the shop across the street in that bril-
liant, sly, lethal cold that I didn't
feel. -I unlocked the door and stepped
inside. I felt the cold, then, deep as
doom. In the bright light, I saw them,
lying together on the sofa, released,
in a frozen embrace.
An hour later I came home, walked
around the house and through the back
yard to the sun-drenched river. I stood
there awhile, listening to it creak and
mutter as it shifted its winter burden.
When I turned away, I saw the dog. He
was standing near the empty dish, head
up, watching me. I went toward him.
He didn't move. I walked past him to
the house to get his food. Slowly,
he followed me.
W. A. Kahle
EXPLORING THE COSMIC
Great big lizard
Millions of years
Real big gizzard
Little tiny ears
Great big lizard
slicing apart the sky
a trillion megawatts growling
a power-starved madness
as the rain falls.
Not real smart
Lasted real long
Never knew Jarts
Never had Pong
Not real smart
Black, heinous clouds
floating in defiance
spit in sopping release
to quench the scorched earth
lusting for the favor implied.
How did you end?
Never had smoking
Never had the bends
It could end in choking
How did you end?
ravaging the west
will gain momentum —
to take the unguarded down
with a simpleton's whimper.
Will we follow your fate?
Did you get someone mad?
Did mom yell because you were late?
Did Commies make you sad?
Will we follow your fate?
On star-filled nights
the peaceful seconds are waiting
like a centenarian's grace
to let each aeon evenly pass . .
into a single, mammoth text.
If a tear falls
on a lonely face today,
or tomorrow, or next year,
one may wish to view it —
if they have the patience.
AT THE SOUND OF THE BEE 13
Hi. This is 5271 and .Bill's
not home right no v. If you leave your
name and number he'll return your
Hey, this is Ken. What a
boring message. Do something more
creative next time. Remember, you're
in the big city now. Why don't you
try to get a date with Linda, the
good-looking receptionist at work.
Then I'll try and get a .date and we
can double. Tell me if you get
lucky by Wednesday.
Bill, this is your mother call-
ing. Where are you? It's 8:30 and
you should be home from work by now.
If you want me to, I can take a train
up to the city this weekend,
straighten up your apartment and do
some laundry. Call me back. I love
(Hawaiian music is in the back-
ground) Hi. This is Bill and I'm not
home right now because I'm touring
the islands. Just leave your message
after the BEEP.
Bill, here. Linda called a little
while ago and left a message on my machine,
Her voice really did things to my libido.
How's Friday night at 7:°0?
You have reached Bill ' s Bachelor Pad
and if it's Linda say something sexy.
Bill, this is your mother, and who's
Linda. In my day, nice girls didn't call
boys. It's not proper. I'm sorry I
can't visit you this weekend because you
have to work Friday night. I think your
boss is giving you too many hours. Maybe
I should call him and tell him you need so:
time off. The dog has been wandering
around the house looking for you. I also
thought of you and mailed you some cookies,
Call me if you're not BEEP.
(Music is heard)
who . . . who, who?
Who are you
Ken, this is Bill. I'm not too sure
I did the right thing about lying to my
mom. I never did that before. Well, I'm
heading out to the health club. See you.
Hi. It's Linda calling and I hope
you're not really gone on vacation
because I can go on Friday night. Mex-
ican food sounds great too. I also
picked up something real special to
wear. See you at work.
It's your mother again. I hope
it's a joke about the vacation.
You're such a kidder. Why haven't
you called me back? The past few
weeks the house seems so empty with-
out you. Call me back whatever time
you get home and you can tell me
all about work. I love you.
You have reached Ken's answering
machine which takes over for him when
he leaves reality. Just leave your,
name and bra size at the BEEP
I'm a size UUD and your mascu-
linity makes me hot and this is a
You have reached 5271 and at the sound
of the beep leave your name and number.
Hello, William. This is Dr. Emery and
I thought I should notify you that your
mother injured herself by falling down the
stairs. She can't get around the house '
because her back hurts. She suggested I
call you and tell you about her condition
and hint to you to come home this weekend.
Thank God, it's Friday. If you share
that belief just give old Ken your name and
number and maybe we can go party tonight.
Ken, you're going to kill me. I have
to go back home and get my mom all situa-
ted because she hurt herself. Could vou
please break the news to Linda. I have to
go catch a train.
At the Sound of the Beep, continued
Hi. This is Commonwealth Edison
and we'd like to know if your refri-
gerator is running. If it is, we suggest
you go catch it. Ka!
You have reached 5271 and at the
sound of the "beep, leave your name and
number . BEEP .
I hope you don't mind, buddy,
but I took out Linda last night. We
have a lot in common. I hope you're not
too mad. I got to run. I have to pick
her up in a half hour. She looked great
last night. Chow.
You have reached 5271, and at the
sound of the beep, leave your name and
Now, that's a real nice message
to have on your machine. I think you
should keep it that way. Girls won't
get the wrong idea about my son. Thanks
for coming up to help me this weekend.
You're my good boy. I love you.
I was glad to see you back at
work. Linda and I were talking at
lunch and she has a friend she could
fix you up with this weekend. That's if
you're not running an errand for your
mother or something. I won't be at
work tomorrow because I'm going shopping
for some new clothes. Adios.
Ken is out right now running up
his Visa bill. If you'd like to make
a donation to the cause, leave your
name and credit card number after the
Go ahead and fix me up with the
girl and she'd better be good-looking.
I'm going to work out. See ya.
(Heavy breathing) I want you. I
want you. I want you. Ha!
You have reached 5271, and at the
sound of the beep, leave your name and
I know you said you can't come
home for awhile, but I had to fire
that nurse. She was always telling
me what to do. Maybe you can take the
train home after work on Friday. It won't
take you too long to find someone else..
I love you.
I have a tracer on this phone and the
next prank call I get , I will find you, and
J will kill you. If you're a friend,
leave your name and number. 3SEP.
Having some troubles with weirdos,
Ken? This girl I'm going out with tomor-
row better be good. I'm feeling really
guilty. I had to say no to my mother.
I'm standing by my decision. See you at
Sorry, I'm calling back again.
Aren't you ever home? What time did you
say we were leaving tomorrow? Wasn't' it
right after work? I guess I bring a change
of clothes then.
You have reached 5271, and at the sound
of the beep, leave your name and number.
Billy, if you're there, please
pick up. I'm real lonely and my back
hurts. The house is so ernDty and quiet.
The neighbor came over today and made me
some casseroles. I hate defending
on people. If you lived here, I wouldn't
have to owrry. You could find a job
like yours near home. If you get home
You have reached 5271, and at the
sound of the beep, leave your name and
William, this is Dr. Emery. I
felt it was important to call and tell
you that your mother has had a nervous
breakdown. She's in Memorial Hospital.
You have reached 5271, and at the
sound of the beep, leave your name and
number . BEEP .
Bill, this is Ken. Where were you
at work. Did that girl tire you out
this weekend? Call me back.
At the Sound of the Beep, continued
You have reached 5271, and at
the sound of the been, leave your
name and number. 3EEP.
Come on, Bill, if you are there,
pick up . . .I'm Worried about you.
Call me. OK?
The number you have reached, 5-2-
701, has been disconnected.
"Excuse me, what does it take to
get some service around here?" a large
Better legs and a short skirt
would help. "I'm sorry. How can I
help you?" I asked politely. My
God! Obviously the illness had
spread to a point that I knew I
couldn't help her at all.
"These shoes were a gift, and they
don't fit." She shoved a bag at me.
Bull. You bought 'em for one night
and are returning them because you
know that your husband will never take
you out in public again. "Well, let's
take a look here." I carefully ex-
tracted the shoes from a J. C. Penney
bag, not even a box. I looked at the
style and read the label. Receipt?
Of course not.
"Madame?" I asked.
"Yes," she answered.
No doubt with legs like those she
obviously couldn't work the streets
any more. "I'm sorry, but this store
doesn't carry this brand." Basically
because it was a shitty brand, and the
uppers were plastic.
"My husband bought them here.
He told me to ask for the older man,
the manager, I think."
I am the manager. "Oh, maybe it
was Jim. Did he have a beard?"
"Yes , I think so . My husband
said that the man told him that he
could bring them back if they didn't
Bob , the only other employee ,
was twenty, and baby- faced. "I'm
really sorry, but we don't carry this
brand." I wasn't sorry in the least.
"Your husband must be mistaken about
the store name."
"No, he wasn't. You had this
shoe here last month," she stated confi-
dently. "Let me speak to the older man."
"I'm sorry, but I'm the oldest em-
ployee here, and we did not have this brand
last month." Or last year, or ever.
"I don't like your attitude. Let
me speak to the manager, now!" she de-
You have been, Stupid. See, it says
so right on the name tag. "I am the mana-
ger, and we do not carry this brand of
shoe. If you can find a receipt or a box,
the store name should be on it . "
"I told you, they were a gift," ■
she snapped. I pitied the man that was
forced, by tradition, to buy gifts for
"I'm sorry, but since we don't carry
the brand, there's really not much I
can do for you."
"So what am I supposed to do with
them?" Obviously becoming upset.
Stick them between your thighs and
start walking. I bet you could get five
miles before they fall out. "I would talk
to your husband again about the store
"Well, I'll let you talk to him
about that." she pouted. "What is your
Oh, thank you for the privilege.
"Steve. Have a nice day."
I watched her waddle out, then turned
and walked slowly into the stock room,
adding a chalk mark to several already
on a small chalk board with the day ' s
date on it. I turned up the volume on the
boom box, then spun around twice, arriving
back behind the counter.
I kept a loaded squirt gun next to
the stapler. I paused, then quickly
grabbed the gun and shot a quick burst
at a target strategically placed es-
pecially for that purpose. The target
was a small plastic card with the head
of a gorilla on it, complete with glaring,
blood-shot eyes. The caption read,
"Patience, my ass. I'm gonna kill some-
thing!" I zapped him in the forehead,
then walked hack to the chalkboard
and placed an X through the latest
addition. Ten for ten, not bad, eh?
She vas history, just like the kid
who entered the store with popcorn, then
left casually when he dumped it in the
Reebok display, the old man who smeared
the entire front display window with
prints from a hand covered with an un-
known brown substance, and the freight
driver who tried to quick-talk me into
signing for a shipment that was four
cases short. The elderly woman who had
tried on every size six in the place even
though she was at least a seven and a
half was up on that board, along with the
man returning a pair of Frye boots with
two inches of toe neatly chopped off,
sole and upper, and the well-dressed
young lady who had implied both that I
was not particularly bright, and that I
was looking up her dress. I thought about
her for a moment, then erased her mark.
She had been half right. But the
others were gone. Poof! Off the face
of the earth. Vaporized.
I had only shot the gorilla for
some of them. The others had met
their demise via Bob's suction-cup dart
gun, shot directly into the face of
Fred, the three-foot tall stuffed bum
sitting in a corner of the stock room.
Fred had a plastic face, and when the
suction cups were a little wet, they
really hung onto old Fred's face. Fred
had taken a double shot because of the
man who had spouted for a half-hour
about how he could never smile and be
courteous to the public day after day.
Of course, he didn't know about the me-
thods and devices that we used to main-
tain that smile.
There was even a faceless X on the
board. At 9:30 a.m., a man had called
and asked, "How would you like to get
your dick sucked?" It had been early.
All I had come up with was, "Not by you,
but what's your mother look like?"
Yep, ten for ten, not bad. I
checked my watch, 1:15 p.m., not bad
at all. I decided to reload the squirt
gun. The rush hadn't started yet.
Then I put my "Verbal Abuse Accepted
With A Smile" sign on the second level of
the counter, just out of sight of the pub-
lic. I had a reputation for patience to
maintain, but the public certainly needed
no added incentive to verbally abuse the
Bob came in slowly, not hesitating
to hesitate upon entrance. He was late.
Good, I would leave early. Bob was a nice
guy, but he had a tendency to disappear
when potential disagreements escalated into
real disagreements. Besides, I was paid
an exorbitant salary to singlehandedly
cure the psychological disorders of customers,
most of whom seemed to be entering their
mid-life crisis and not quite sure how to
deal with it , except to abuse those strug-
gling to maintain a positive philosophical
outlook on life in general. I frowned
"Yes," he stated, rather than asked.
"What was the question?" I asked
with a puzzled expression.
"It's cold outside." Bob was an
"Is it as cold outside now as when.
it was cold outside before?"
Bob paused, the n asked, "Steve,
you ever notice that you're a little
"Yes , but I keep hoping that , if
I eat my vegetables, someday I'll grow up
to be a big weird."
Bob shook his head, then asked, "Did
I tell you my sister got herself pregnant?"
"I thought only earthworms could do
that . "
We were inter runted by a small mi-
nority person, Asian probably. 3ob -called
them Yabba-Dabba-Doo people because,
somehow, no matter what they said, it came
out sounding like Flintstone's Yabba-
Dabba-Doo. I pointed to the right and
nodded. He appeared satisfied.
An expression of ecstasy, something
like, "shit, yeah!" exploded from the
stock room. Upon investigation, Bob had
placed a dart right on old Fred's nose.
He had been trying to put one there for
six weeks. He was elated.
"I'm taking a break. The place is
yours for awhile," I informed him. He
appeared disappointed. I didn't blame
him. As I walked out, I was already
dreading my return.
Contrary to company policy, I got
into my car and drove away. I began to
ponder the earth-shaking significance
of my glorious contribution to hu-
manity in general. I thought about my
life as I drove. I had the freedom
to accelerate, to stop, to turn.
Driving was one of the few things I
had direct control over. Driving, and
the volume of my car stereo. But, it
occurred to me as I pulled away from
a red Datsun with a sign in the window,
"Ex-Girlfriend In Trunk," and part
of a blonde wig and half a glove pro-
truding from the closed car trunk,
that I had a degree of control over
a lot more things than I had given
myself credit for.
It was easy to listen to others
tell me that it was my life, and to
live it, but quite another to actually
R-E-A-L-I-Z-E that it was the truth.
Naive in my own way, it was a reali-
zation that forced me to pull over
to an outside pay phone. I called a
few old friends and invited them to
dinner. Not B. S. friends, but
people I could count on to tell me
when I was full of shit, my own
official family. Then I called Bob
and told him I . was leaving work early
on my day off.
"No way!" was his response.
"Bob, shut up — and do the books
tonight," was mine.
Another realization hit- me later,
when, even on such short notice,
almost everyone I cared about showed
up, not that there was a huge crowd,
but I wasn't keeping score. You don't
give a point spread on unofficial
family, and you don't get embarrassed
with them either, because the only
people watching are the poor souls
that don't have anything better to
I decided that evening that
world peace did not come under my
direct jurisdiction, and that I
for the world. I had enough to con-
centrate on in my own little skulli-
The next morning I arrived a
little late to open the store. I
had stopped at a printing shop.
After the usual morning set up
routine, I turned up the boom box,
hung old Fred by the neck from the
rafters, and put a new sign on the
counter, in plain sight of the public.
It read, "Verbal Abuse "lot Accented Here —
At - All ! "
I was in a. good mood, and intended
to stay that way. At 10:30 a.m., the
husband of the fat lady from the day before
called to tell me that he would have my
job because of the way I had treated his
wife. It was early. All I could cone
up with was, "You want it that bad, you
can have it." Then I hung up on him. Eor
some reason, the gorilla was safe.
in Central Park .
and wail in on your harp
the gospel truth
from a nasal voice
you're detached, somehow apart
living in the village
rubbing elbows with the underground
Big Brothers on your back
drink coffee with Mr. Hoffman
everyone calls you cat
sister's out in Frisco
stealing all your riffs
the music ' s not what ' s changing
just the chemicals we use
she didn't change her name
but they love her just the same
Goodbye Joan and Bobby
your voices are seldom heard now
The times have been a-changin
and dixie's underground
but you gave us an alternative
right when we needed it most
I HATED MRS. METZLER
She was a big woman y hard-faced.,
dowdy, and we hated her as only a bunch
of nine-year-old fourth-graders could.
I Hated Mrs. Metzler, continued
She taught with an iron hand.
Whether the subject be English, math,
spelling, or history, Mrs. Metzler
made it seem extremely difficult . She
was a stickler for detail and accuracy.
I remember telling my mother that
Mrs. Metzler didn't teach us anything.
That was how it seemed to me. She gave
us reading assignments and, the next day,
would simply assume that we knew every-
thing in the reading assignment. Prior
to the fourth grade, we did all the
reading in class along with the teacher.
This approach, of course, put part of the
blame for our ignorance on the teacher.
Mrs. Metzler put the burden of learn-
ing on us. If we didn't know the material,
it was our own fault, nobody else's.
Mrs. Metzler never ever lost her
temper. She didn't even raise her voice
and seemed to be the most patient per-
son alive. This trait, however, does
not mean that she couldn't be mean.
Her meanness took the form of education
by memorizing. I spent nearly every re-
cess of the fourth grade inside, copying
my multiplication tables one hundred
times each. An icy stare from her could
bring perspiration by the pint from
around my waist.
The reason I remember her so well,
was that the woman was the fairest tea-
cher I ever had. There were no teacher's
pets in her class. She showed abso-
lutely no favoritism. If the smartest
girl in class forgot her book, she had
to write one hundred times, Just like
the ne'er-do-well in the back if the
class. She could not be bribed by
apples, Valentine cards, or compliments.
She was totally incorruptible.
It seemed to me that Mrs. Metzler
was only vaguely aware of us as indi-
viduals. She was not particularly
interested in any of her students, and
made no attempt to get any of us to
like her. She was often known to say,
"I'm not here to be in a popularity
contest." In the playground chatter,
she took a lot of abuse. Nobody
tried to hide the fact that they hated
Mrs. Metzler. I saved some of my best
put-downs for her. Being accepted by
your peers is very important to a
Eventually, however, I secretly
began to like Mrs. Metzler. She made
learning a challenge. There were no
tmgible rewards in her class for a job well
done, although there was a look she gave me
when she knew I had made an effort to learn and
finally understood. I often found myself striving
to get that look. I finally began to realize
that the knowledge was the reward. I : realized
that with that look Mrs. Metzler was saying,
"Congratulations, you just solved a difficult prob-
lem using only your own resources." She showed
me that learning is not easy and that knowledge
is its own reward. Solving problems gives us
self-respect. The degree of self-respect is
directly proportionate to the difficulty of the
problem, and strength is gained from perseverance.
It took me many years to realize just how
much Mrs. Metzler influenced my life. When I
think about her now, I think Mrs. Metzler always
knew that someday we would appreciate her. Tea-
chers like her win their students' gratitude
by not babying them and by encouraging them to
push on with difficult , or even boring tasks .
I'm sure Mrs. Metzler had a lot to do with my
decision to pursue a career in teaching.
Thanks Mrs. Metzler, wherever you are.
PETE ROSE AIN'T GOT NOTHIN' -ON ME
We all wonder about people who con-
tinually insist on indulging in self-
destructive behavior. We shake our heads
in disbelief at people who abuse alcohol
or drugs. Why would anyone want to smoke?
Why do some of us continue to carry around
those extra pounds?
"Why are you trying to kill yourself?"
my husband and my mother repeatedly asked
me. After the "Enema Plunge," I realized
they had every reason to consider me sui-
cidal,- but I also knew I couldn't quit
now. I was going to be a water skier even
if it killed me.
"I just have to analyze the turns,"
I told them both. Once again, I deter-
mined the answer to be in the legs. I
decided I had to slightly bend my knees
to absorb the shock of the boat's wake.
Armed with my newest theory, I was off to
Coal City. Up on the first try, I felt
strong and ready. The spaghetti arms
were strengthened from a summer of skiing.
They still weren't going to pull me out
of the water, but I felt if my legs could
do most of the work, my arms could at
Fete Rose Ain't Got Nothin' On Me! continued
least hang in there until it was over.
As the turn came closer, it occur-
red to me that I was thirty miles from
the nearest hospital. I went out wide,
felt the speed pick up, bent my knees
and then saw the trees closing in on
my right. Oh, this is it, I thought!
But the boat began to straighten out,
and miraculously enough, so did I.
"I did it! I did it!" I
screamed. My husband, Doug, always the
enthusiastic, encouraging type, yelled,
"Shut up, or you'll fall! It isn't
over yet, ya know!"
As we uassed the rest of our
group on shore, I could hear them
clapping and shouting. I felt like
I was getting a standing ovation.
It went to my head, and I did some-
thing else I'd been just dying to do.
I let go with one hand and waved!
That was it, I knew. The other women
were now simply green! You see,
they had been having their own prob-
lems. Of the five of them, two were
at about my level, one was even
worse — she was still trying to get
up — and one said that after watching
the rest of us, she preferred to
consider water skiing a spectator
sport. I know that still leaves one,
but let's not talk about her, shall we?
She's one of those 110-pounders
that just flies out of the water.
Anyway, by the second turn I
found myself wondering what the prob- .
lem had been. My elation, however,
was interrupted by the snake that
slithered across the tip of my
right ski. I'm sorry I can't be
more descriptive about the snake,
but he wasn't there long enough for
us to become acquainted. Thank
God! I screamed and pointed toward
it. The guys in the boat laughed.
They thought I was still showing off.
Later that day came the big
test. Everyone wanted Doug and me to
ski double. I kept remembering how
disappointed Shelby had been.
"Surely, you're not going to refuse
to try?" Doug sneered. I shot him
the old evil eye, but sweetly said,
"And what about the turns?" He
grabbed my hand and started running
toward the water. "No problem.
You just take the outside." Easy
for him to say, I thought.
I was so nervous I came up too quick
and nearly went right back down. Some-
how, I recovered, and we were off. As
you may have gathered, I had never (and
never will) learned to think of skiing
as fun. It was a lot of hard work and
pain and a challenge. Doug was having a
great time, though, and I let. a little of
it rub off. I was actually laughing; then
came the dreaded turn. I went so wide that
Doug's turn was complete long before
mine. He had too much slack in the rope,
and he started wrapping it around his
arm. I had seen him do that many times
when the boat would momentarily lose
speed. It always made me nervous. I
would envision the boat jerking and him
going down with the rope wrapped around
his arm. I hated to think how badly
he could get hurt .
I 'knew I had to cut my turn short,
even if it meant falling. I began putting
extra weight onto my left ski and leaned
slightly in that direction. It worked.
"Nothin' like wait in' till the last
second!" he yelled. "Was this my idea?"
I screamed back. The rest of the way
was smooth sailing. I almost arrived at
the shore without getting my hair wet —
almost. That was my last goal, and it woul
have to wait until next summer.
The night before the first trip to
Coal City for the 198l season, I announced
my goal to Doug.' "I'm going to ski all
the way around tomorrow and come out with
dry hair. "
"We're going to the lake, Penny.
People get their hair wet in the lake. I'm
sure I must be missing something here."
"It's not the hair, really," I tried
to explain. "I just need to do it!
Marie (the boat owner's mother) never
gets her hair wet, and she's fifty-five
years old! If she can do it, I should be
able to. Don't you understand that?"
He gave me that blank stare I've seen so
many times over the years but never
quite have gotten used to.
I went to sleep that night with that
familiar feeling of anxiety, dread, and
impending doom closing in on me. I'm a
firm believer in Murphy's Law, but what
else could possibly go wrong?
The next morning was clear and cool.
Maybe I won't even ski, I thought. I'll
freeze. By noon, though, it was warm
enough for even the biggest sissy. The men
had each taken several turns while the
Pete Rose Ain't Got ITothin' On Me! continued
women sat around in jeans and sweatshirts.
One "by one, we began peeling off the extra
clothes, each of us wishing someone else
would go first. "C'mon, Sartori, you're a
pro now; get out here," some smart-mouth
shouted from the boat. "Okay," I mumbled.
"Let's get it over with."
Doug reluctantly got up and started
toward the boat shaking his head. I heard
him say to no one in particular r "When I
was a kid I fell down the basement steps
once. It not only hurt like hell when I
fell, but I was sore for days afterward.
I was more careful after that, though.
When Penny was a kid she probably fell
down the basement steps on a regular
basis just so she could find new places
"Hey, if I wanted a comedian, I
would 've brought one along," I snapped.
"In the boat, funny man!"
It really was like riding a bike! I
was up on the first try, skied a short
way, then crossed over the wake and back
again — another first . As we approached the
turn, visions of the "Enema Plunge" were
vivid in my mind. Knees slightly bent,
weight slightly shifted to the left, I nav-
igated it perfectly. We passed the shore;
I crossed the wake and waved.
"Boo! Hiss! Show-off!" I heard
them scream. I loved it. "Eat your heart
out," I screamed.
The second turn came and went . I
was on the home stretch now, and all I
could think of was dry hair. "Let go!"
I finally heard Doug yell. I did, but
not soon enough. As my face smashed into
the sand, I heard some pervert yell, "And
the skier is safe at home! Hey, Doug!
Did you see your wife's head-first dive
"Yeah, I saw it. Pete Rose ain't
got nothin' on her, except he gets paid to
beat himself up."
I lifted my face up and saw my
features imprinted in the sand and felt
the sand embedded in my face and arms.
Doug jumped out of the boat and hurried
over to me.
"Now that you've mastered the
water, I guess my place is on shore so
I can catch you when you land."
"You could ask if I'm all right,"
I sputtered, spitting out words and sand.
"You must be okay, your hair's
dry. Next time around, maybe you could
drop a ski."
Suddenly I was thirteen again as
I rolled over slowly and flipped him
It was a clear, cool night in mid-
summer when twelve boys were coming out
of the woods carrying the tools they
used to start building the tree fort
called Have. It was getting dark, and
their parents would start to wonder where
they had rushed off to after dinner. We
called the fort Haven because everyone
agreed that when something was going
wrong at home, we could always have a
safe place called Haven to run from the
worries of today.
And a fort it was . It was built in
one of the largest oaks in the woods
with many branches at the top but none
at the bottom so no invading forces could
enter the fort uninvited. We origi-
nally had to hook one of the branches
with a homemade grappling hook and climb
a rope to get to the branches. Henry,
the human monkey, and the best climber
in the eighth grade and two grades ahead
of me, climbed the rope and anchored the
top of 'the rope ladder to a branch.
Then we went up the ladder and began to
survey our new position. In this part of
the woods, there were many other trees
at about the same height, but this tree
poked above the canopy, enabling us to
view the corn fields in the distance. We
were not able to see anyone coming because
of the leaves. But we weren't worried
about the summer. We were excited about
With the leaves gone, we would be
able to see anyone coming a great distance
away and could ready our ammunitions of
snow balls for the great battles that
we knew would come this winter. Last
year we were horribly beaten by a group
of kids from Maple Park who not only took
our fort, but used our own snowballs against
I walked home that evening with Robert
who came over and watched television with
me until his mom called and made him go
home. The funny thing about Robert is
what everyone called him. Robert. He
was never Rob or Bob or Bobby. He
was just Robert. And he wasn't
geeky or nerdy or anything like that.
He was just quiet and slight. Every-
one who knew Robert liked him. Too
bad I couldn't say the same thing
about me. I got in a lot of fights
with older kids in gym class because
I didn't have any friends in the class
and wouldn't take their crap.
Even though it was summer and I
could sleep in, I got up the next
Morning and ate breakfast with my mom
"Well, Alex," said my dad.
"What are you doing up so early?"
"I've gotta work on the fort,
Dad," I answered.
"Honey, I don't like you build-
ing that fort in the woods , " my mom
said. My mom and dad were stereo-
typical parents. "Still, I don't
approve. Dear, tell him about the
dangers . "
"Come on, June," my dad defend-
ed. "I did the same thing when I was
a kid." My dad was on my side when it
came to doing things like building
a tree house or going off with the
guys to see a movie, as stereotypical
fathers are. He then told us when
he was a kid, he and his friends built
an underground fort in a field that
was so well hidden when people came
to look for them, they would walk
right over the top of the fort without
"Dad," I questioned. "What
ever happened to it?"
My dad laughed. "One day we
were hiding from a group of older kids
when one fell through the ceiling of
the fort. He was so startled with
smaller kids yelling and scrambling
over him to get out, he forgot about
I finished my favorite breakfast
of Cheer ios and ran out the door
toting my Handy Andy toolbox and a
sack lunch that my mom made. Even
though she didn't approve and didn't
understand why I couldn't walk home
a half-mile to eat , my mom wanted
me to have a good lunch. Robert
was waiting on my front doorstep
petting our cat that purred to his
attention. Our cat liked Robert.
"Hey, Robert, why didn't ya cone in?"
"Uh ... I don't know. I just
thought I would sit here and wait."
Robert spent a lot of time at my house
because his mom worked in the day and his
dad worked a night shift and slept in
the day, so Robert couldn't have his
friends over. Robert's dad didn't really
like Robert. He had an older brother which
his father had liked the most because
he was a star athlete but he died in a
bizarre football injury. His neck was
snapped by a bad tackle in practice.
Robert was far from being a star at
Robert didn't have a lunch or a tool
box. All he had was a l6-ounce hammer
with a fiber glass handle he found when
he moved into his house a few years ago.
He loved that hammer. The other kids would
ask Robert to pound in nails because he
had the best hammer in our group.
As we walked to the woods we had to pass
through the park which, by an uncharacter-
istic act of gracious behavior by the
village, consisted of a tornado slide,
three swings, and a double teeter-totter.
All the things a child could ever need
to have a full day of fun in the sun.
In the park were a few kids from
Maple Park that came over to see our
fort. Or so they said.
n Kee-p walking, Robert," I said as the
seconds it took to pass them turned into
years. We were almost in the woods and
I thought we might pass them without a
confrontation when I heard, "Hey kids,
where ya going without your mommy to hold
your hand?" The biggest kid was taunting
us. His hair was about shoulder-length
and unkempt and his clothes looked like
they hadn't been washed since Christmas.
He had pimples all over his face because
he was a little more "mature" than the
other boys his age. The other two boys
were his henchmen.
"Run into the woods , Robert , " I
hissed as I turned to face them. I
heard a squeal from behind me. There was
a fourth member of this goon squad that
must have been looking into the edge of
the woods, heard us, and was coming back
when he came across Robert. He herded
Robert into the circle that the other
goons created and had us surroundedT
"Go back to your mommies," I told
them. They laughed it off.
"Oh, we has got a wise guy,"
the head goon said. "Well, you should be
a little smarter, saying that to some-
body which is bigger than you." Did
I say their grammar was terrible?
They grabbed my tool box; I jumped,
but the others held me back.
"Now, what's this?" He held up
my small hacksaw. He took the blade out
of the saw and bent it back and forth
until it snapped. I was really start-
ing to steam. "Oh, look at da cute little
hammer." He held up my Handy Andy blue-
topped 8-ounce hammer. He threw it into
the woods and then stomped on the thin
sheet metal Handy Andy tool box. He
very graciously handed me the tool box
back. I was so mad by now I didn't
care if there were four or thirty goons.
I broke free of the other kids' hold,
and jumped on the head goon. He was very
surprised at the sudden attack and fell
to my quickly repeated blows. The other
boys were shocked and stood watch for
a few seconds. I had a clear advan-
tage over the goon and what I lacked
in weight and size, I made up with anger.
He could do nothing but scream, "Get
this kid off me!" and try to protect
The three others shook off the sur-
prise and pulled me off him. I was in a
fighting frenzy and struggled to break
free of their hold but they held me
tight. I calmed down, breathing heavy,
and looked at the damage I caused.
His nose was bleeding and his eyes were
red, and I could tell he would have
two good black eyes by tomorrow. He
felt his nose and saw the blood. He
screamed. Now he was in a frenzy. He
scrambled up and started pounding on me.
He broke my nose and a few ribs . The
boys holding me let me fall on the
ground. All four of them started kick-
ing me. All I could do was hold my arms
over my head and hope it would end
When I thought I could not take
any more, I heard a scream from the
head goon. The pounding stopped. I
squinted out of my swollen eyes and
saw the head goon was on the ground,
screaming and holding his head. Ro-
bert stood over him, holding his hammer.
The other boys were shocked again. They
stood looking at Robert with their jaws
open. Their minds wouldn't let them be-
lieve that meek, little Robert could do
this. I could hardly believe it myself.
I knew they wouldn't just beat him up
if they caught him.
"Run, Robert!" I yelled and he ran.
But he was running into the woods and not
toward the neighborhood. "Ho, Robert, not
"Get him!" yelled the head goon. The
other boys chased Robert and the head goon
scrambled after him.
"No, Robert," I wheezed as I tried to
get up. I couldn't. The pain was too
much. I felt a hand hold me down. I
looked up, thinking one of the goons came
back to beat me somr more. It was Harold,
who could be called the leader of our
"What happened?" he asked, helping
me sit up.
"Four kids from Maple Park beat me
up and chased Robert into the woods . "
Harold yelled to the others from our group
and they ran into the woods .
"I've got to help Robert," I said as
I tried to get up. Harold held me down.
"We'll get them. You stay here."
Harold ran after the others. I continued
my attempts to get up, but failed. I
was really beat up for a sixth-grader.
I heard shouting and then a loud scream.
About five minutes passed when two boys
from my group, Bob and Jim, hurried over,
picked me up, and started to carry me
to the street.
"What happened?" I asked and was cut
short by the pain in my chest from my
broken ribs. They set me down and let me
walk with their help.
"They beat Robert pretty badly,"
said Bob. "When we got to him, he was
knocked out on the ground and they were
kicking him. But we took care of them.
We really pounded them. And Harold really
beat that big kid."
The others ran out of the woods carry-
ing Robert. He was still unconscious.
They took us to my house, which was the
closest and told my mother. She shrieked
when she saw me and quickly called an am-
bulance. It came and took Robert and
me away with my mom riding with us, crying.
I was able to go home that night
with a broken nose and three broken ribs.
Robert had to stay awhile. He had a con-
cussion, broken ribs, and a broken
arm. My mother told me that when
they called Robert's father, he was
there in a matter of minutes. He
came to see me and I told him how
Robert hit the kids that were beating
me up and probably saved my life.
I was exaggerating, but it was what
he wanted to hear.
Robert's father gained a lot of
respect for his son that day. He
spent more time with Robert every day
and when Robert was healed, his father
started to teach him how to play football
and took him to games. Robert told me
later that getting beat up was worth it
to have his father back again.
Robert and I snent a lot of time to-
gether during high school. We were both
on the football team and had classes to-
gether. But, we went to different colleges
and lost touch over the years. I always
wonder what happened to that little boy
I once knew a long time ago.
Embodied time, relentless restless rhyme
Life the canvas with colors bright,
Show me light, Oh star of mine,
The dream, the vision, whose voice
An eagle's flight the dawn divide,
Behold its wonder behold its right.
Enf lamed and mighty in astro flight,
Across the sea of wonder, the endless
To fill with wonder the warning night.
An echoed omen! To taro light,
The dancing moon on rustling leaves,
The mighty wind to caress the trees.
The tranquil sound on barren beach,
The rolling waves of crashing seas.
To know the reason for autumn's season,
To tease a tear without painful reason.
To steal the touch of heaven's wonder,
To feel the joy, a melancholy tear
behind heaven's thunder.
IF PEOPLE WERE AGELESS
if people were ageless,
the petty barrier of time
would not exist to keep them
equally and fully--
Fingers glued inside
move considerably in opposition
to black and white patterns
of Op— Art vibrations.
Like a Mae West Bedroom,
Dali-eyed paintings on the wall,
her mouth a bed
to sleep satin softly away,
the night crickets anapests
against the rhythm of
a seductive tango —
a liquidly sliding movement
of hips and lips
and the silkiest hair.
All the colors of rainbow Van Gogh
melt into yellow —
the streak of cowards ' backs ,
and yet a hopeful hue
devoid of cry, except
like a child hopskipping
handclapping .jittery anxious
for the next moment
as though it held
a birthday celebration
in suspended animation.
I laugh, too,
by the cynicisms of age:
and punched by sunshine.
Fantasy of blue-green
a fluid wave of chiffon
streamed out in the "breeze
motoring through Italian hillsides
the knot at freedom's throat.
We drift like this,
lazing into a moment
like mermaid's hair:
a soft swaying
deep in the sea
as achingly graceful
as a lovesong's final note.
Tomorrow' s fingers
belong to a strangler.
IMAGES AT MY WINDOW
From this darkening space,
An angling shaft of sun light spears
As the shadowing night envelopes myself,
A color emerges at the window.
A life of memories swarms around this,
The blue shimmers with past tears and hopes ,
Moments of shared intimacy glow from within
Reflections of friendship, sorrow and
Renewal and communion with the
Images of the future — older and frightening.
God, this window is a part of me.
So many times, during this swift moment
I'll glance up and be engulfed by that
This time between day and
That diamond of color is a window into
The blueness is beyond this world and
Seems to glow a warmth into my soul .
A minute could be a lifetime
Gazing into that
It ' s the lines I have
Spoken, you can't read
Between. It's the words
I have written that
You cannot hear. Lines
Forever running, running
Endlessly. We're parallel
Lines that never meet ,
Just parallel lines ,
Opposite" sides of the street
I entered the room slowly, wishing
that my photo-grey lenses would adjust more
quickly to the light. The lenses were a
great concept , but it took a while for them
to change from light to dark, or vice-
versa. At times, they left me groping
in a state of semi-blindness.
As things focused a little, I looked
around the place. I had no idea what the
name of it was, but the orange neon
Strohs light above the door had attracted
my attention. I walked to the bar and
found a space, noticing that I had begun
to attract a little attention myself.
Obviously, my suit and overcoat contrasted
sharply with the torn tee-shirts and patched
Levis which seemed almost uniform apparel.
A chubby lady with a Brillo-pad hair-
cut waddled over to my space.
"Watcha need, hon?"
I stifled 'an urge to order spumante.
"Strohs, draft please."
As the bartender waddled back to the
tap, I took a ten from my wallet and tossed
it on the bar. The beer would taste good,
or at least it would be cold. I had been
imagining the taste for over an hour.
Problems and delays at work had gotten
everyone there a little over-heated, and
I felt I had a right to douse the flames
with a cold one or two.
I had been on the road for a couple
of hours, and had about three more to go
before making it back to Joliet. The
company had temporarily shipped me out of
state to give a little oomph to a new
location. The people had been uncoopera-
tive, the new-guy-giving-orders situation.
Besides that, the company hadn't
matched my expenses, someone had
written, "Eat shit!" on my wind-
shield, and I had tripped and fallen
down in the parking lot . I was not
in -a great mood, but it was over.
I was- going home.
The bartender slowly waddled
back with my beer.
"Here y'go, hon."
"Thanks a lot." I pushed the
ten towards her. "Could you tell me
what city I'm in?"
She snorted, then waddled away,
"Great," I mumbled. It was an
interesting name for a town, but per-
haps appropriate, at least from
what I had seen so far.
I took a couple of healthy
swallows , then slowly took off my
overcoat and hung it on the back
of a bar stool. The coat was warm,
but also very heavy. A friend of
mine had joked that it might be
bullet-proof. I quickly glanced
around the place again and silently
wished that it was.
I reached inside my jacket and
readjusted the position of the bottle
of cough syrup in my left insdie
pocket. To add the other inconveni-
ences, I had a cold, and had been
carrying the bottle around for several
days. My voice was obviously fly-
ing south for the winter while I
was driving northeast . The ooze-
like syrup kept what was left from
leaving completely. The problem was
that the bottle had a square cap,
and chafed my underarm if I left
it in one spot too long.
The chubby bartender waddled
back and set my change in front of
me. I looked at her. She looked
at me, then waddled away, laughing
I rolled my eyes toward the ceil-
ing, then mumbled, "Great." I knew
I wasn't the most attractive guy
in the "world, but I never really
considered myself as funny looking.
I decided that the woman was either
a little strange, a little drunk, or
a little of both. I took another
healthy swallow, then turned around
to find a pair of glazed eyes staring,
not at me, through me, from across, the
room. The guy was leaning against the
wall, swaying slightly, balancing himself
by planting the end of a pool cue between
his feet and holding the other end tightly
with both hands . He looked about my age ,
except balding badly. The gut was evi-
dence that he had been in a bar before.
It was apparent from his wobbling head
that the man had little idea what he was
looking at. I turned around, and looked
into my beer, hoping that I hadn't attract-
ed the attention of the human form with the
void behind the eyes.
This was a strange place. There were
enough people, strange though they might
be, but except for the juke box in the corn*
playing an old song by Chicago, "Searching,
there wasn't much in the way of noise.
There i were no guys shoving each other around
no one telling jokes. Weird!
I finished my beer, then nodded to
the bartender for another. That started
her waddling again.
"Is it always this quiet, here?"
She nodded, then waddled off laughing
"Okay," I mumbled. I reached inside
my jacket to readjust the damn syrup
bottle again. I glanced to my left and no-
ticed a girl looking at me. She must've beffl
in the bathroom, because she hadn't been
there when I came in, and I had a habit
of checking doors in bars. Besides, she
was cute and wearing a short skirt. I
would have noticed her.
I smiled, then said, "Hi."
She looked at me another moment , then
turned away. I scratched my head, then
added, "Or, maybe not."
Slowly I stood up, put the change
from the ten in my pocket, then decided
to check out the bathroom myself. Beer
always had that effect on me, and besides,
if I hurried, maybe I would miss much of
the excitement. The girl was probably a
After the important stuff was taken
care, of, I combed my hair. I had just
gotten a haircut, and it felt a little
too short. It was too bad but the girl
probably was a hooker. I must not appear
to have money, or at least enough.
I heard voices from the bar. Great,
somebody was alive out there. I heard a
glass break, and someone laughed. Things
must just start later in ... in wherever
the hell I was. Someone else laughed.
I walked back into the bar, rubbing
the highway glare out of my eyes . The
bar had become as quiet as before. The
only change was that the cute girl in
the short skirt was sitting in the bar
stool with my overcoat on it. Yep, pro-
bably a hooker.
I walked up beside her and grabbed
"Hi, again." Maybe I did look like
I had enough money.
"That's a start."
"Yoti know, nothing's going to
happen here, tonight."
Okay, time for the sales pitch.
"Is it always like this, here?"
"Only when you guys are here."-
"Huh? I'm here alone."
"You know what I mean." Her skirt
had ridden a little higher. I was
looking at her legs and she caught me.
"I'm sorry. What were you saying?"
"We saw vou drive up."
"So we know who you are and why
"I'm Steve, and I'm here to have
"Bullshit. We know what's going
"Good. Maybe you could tell me.
I'm not from around here."
"I really don't have to tell you
"Okay, so why are you sitting here?"
"Just to let you know that we're
"Good." I was missing something
here. "What are you talking about?"
"We saw your car. We know you're
The girl was cute, but this was
beginning to get a little too weird.
"I'm not a cop."
"Look, we saw the antenna and the
state police sticker on your car. That
wasn't very bright."
"The antenna gives me good FM
reception, and the sticker just says
that I support local #kl."
"Not buyin' it."
"Look! The company I work for
made a donation to the state police.
They gave us some stickers. I put one
on the car because I thought that it
might make the difference between a
warning and a ticket."
"It's okay. We know all about the
undercover drug investigation. That's
why nothing's going to happen here."
"That's wonderful, but I'm not a
"You're not, huh?"
"Then why the gun?"
"This one, here." She poked the
bulge in the left side of my jacket,
underneath my arm. I couldn't help a
silly giggle. This was the weirdest
hooker I had ever met .
"Oh, my gun. Well, since everybody
knows about it anyway , would you like
to see it?"
Her eyes brightened. "Okay."
"I'm not supposed to do this, so
you can't tell anybody about it."
I had the feeling she wasn't the only
one watching. I slipped my hand inside
my coat and reached inside my left in-
side pocket. Slowly, I pulled out the
often deadly bottle of decongestant
She batted her eyes , ther\ gently
patted the side of my coat.
"You son of a bitch!"
"Maybe, but I'm not a cop."
Someone behind me laughed. I sat
there with a silly grin. The girl began
to laugh too.
"Can I buy you a drink now?"
"I guess so."
I shook my head, still grinning.
"Un-fuckin' -believable." I tried to
picture Officer Steve, and failed misera-
bly. "Can we start this again? I'm
Steve, a sales consultant." I offered
my hand. She took it.
"Nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you."
I motioned to the chubby bartender
with the Birllo-pad haircut . She wad-
dled over again.
"Could we get a couple of drinks?"
"Sure, Hon. These are on the house."
She waddled away.
"Thanks. So, Cheryll, what do you
do for a living?" Whoops, silly ques-
"I'm a computer program con-
sultant . "
"Great. f?his is almost like
"A paradox. That's what you
get when you nail boards together
around two boats marked side by side."
I felt a tap on my shoulder, and
turned in time to see my human form
with the void behind his eyes. He
smiled, then said, "How's it goin'?"
"Not bad. How' re you doin'?"
Somebody kicked the jukebox.
"It's Hip To Be Square,"
by Huey Lewis and the News cranked
up. Cheryll touched my arm. I turned
to face her.
"Steve, when you asked me what
I did for a living, what did you think
I was going to say?"
"Well, from looking at you,
I'd say probably a computer program
"Oh yeah, you definitely
look like a computer program consul-
There we were . . .
Two people sharing the same beliefs ,
living the same lives,
dreaming the same dreams..
...uncommon, I guess
two spirits becoming one?
Here we are . . .
worlds apart . . .
our beliefs as far a^art
as the West from the
our lives, unrecognizable
to each other
our dreams ... words are
have you drifted too far away from shore?
or am I afraid of the water you are in?
Where will we be . . .
there is another world waiting,
for you. . .for me. . .us?
to be filled with memories of tomorrow
different memories to be sure
better or worse?
we cannot see from where we stand today...
do you want to begin a new journey with me.?
Cotton candy misery
Bound tight on a spool,
In a thriving fist.
Dull the death knives,
Break a pane
Sending a tingling trail
A sleepy spine.
Life, you are all mine.
Stagger and sway, ascendant,
IF THERE'S NO FIRE, WHAT'S THE RUSH
I was semi-conscious as I started the
car, turning on the stereo, loudly, to clear
the webs. I had just worked twelve hours,
four longer than indicated by the schedule,
and I was trying to prepare myself, both
physically and mentally, for a three-hour
night-time south-bound cruise. I was not
sure how well I would weather the drive,
but I had promised to show up, and I
would. A promise was a promise, but more
than that, besides being wary of highway-
dangers, I was looking forward to the
weekend, or what was left of it.
If There's No Fire, continued
I had met Linda a few months
earlier. She was a good friend of
a female cousin, and when they came
to town, I had called a friend to
make it a foursome. I had been
seeing her regularly for a couple of
months, the visits being limited to
weekends because of work schedules
and the three-hour one-way drive.
We had become friends, close to being
good friends, and I saw no reason the
relationship could not continue and
develop into something more.
I had become a welcome guest
in her parents' home. They had even
grown accustomed to my different
sense of humor, and had made me feel
very comfortable. Spending a little
time in a small town had given me
a chance to unwind, and I sincerely
enjoyed spending time with Linda.
She was nice, really nice, and cute
too. I had the feeling that she
was someone that could be trusted,
and I think the feeling was mutual.
I had packed before work,
and knew the route well. My biggest
concern, even after popping a couple
of No-Doz, was staying on the road
for three hours. I figured I'd .
either make it or I wouldn't, logical,
but overly simplistic at best.
Well , I must have made it , because
I've written this since. I cruised
into the driveway at about one a.m. ,
figuring that no one would be awake,
and that, not wanting to awaken the
household, I'd be stuck spending the
night in the car. I had called, and
was expected to arrive late, but not
that late. Mental images of leg-
cramps and no sleep clouded my vision.
until I was parked and looking at
a well-lit house. Great — no leg
Linda met me at the door. Taking
a good look, she said, "Holy ..."
but paused there. She. shook her. head,
smiled, then said, "Come inside. You
"Thanks for the vote of confi-
dence." I smiled, I think.
Linda laughed, grabbed my bag,
then took my arm and led me inside,
leaving me against a wall as she
took my bag into the guest room.
She returned and, with little help
from me, pried me from the wall and
jump over candles
know Coleridge winters
feel passion violetly
deep enough to drown,
play cellos and Pan pipes
all the day
all the night.
sing gypsy blues
at full-moon time
wash out with the tide
from here to eternity
finger forbidden folds
sparkle like Tinkerbell ' s feet
after eating canaries
while the cat's away
all the night
all the day.
led me to the couch, turned me around,
then pushed downward on my shoulders.
I managed a sitting position, sort of.
Linda knelt, and proceeded to take off
my shoes. I had had those things on
for at least sixteen hours, but she
didn't even back away from what I'm sure
was a less than pleasant aroma. She
propped my feet on the coffee table and
sat down next to me.
"You could 've come tomorrow," she
"I know, but I said I'd be here
tonight, and besides, if it's all right
with you, I wanted to see you."
"Oh, it's all right with me, but
Steve," she paused, "can you see me?"
"Not very well, sorry."
"That's okay," she smiled again.
"Do you want a beer?"
"Yeah, but I shouldn't. One
will put me out for sure . "
"You could use the sleep." She
strolled into the kitchen, quickly
returning with an open Miller and a
As she poured the beer, I watched
and, when she had finished, asked,
If There's No Fire, continued
"Have I ever told you that I'm start-
ing to 'like you?"
"Yes, "but it's nice to hear,
TVo swallows later and I was
drifting off somewhere. I wasn't sure
where, but when I drifted hack, it
was light outside. Inside too,- for
that matter, because I was inside and
could see without electric visual
aids. I just assumed that it must
have been light outside also, although
I didn't check.
I walked, or rather stumbled,
into the kitchen, and met a guy
who looked almost as bad as I did.
He needed a shave, had bloodshot
eyes, was dressed in a bathrobe,
and drinking a Miller.
"Hello?" I questioned.
"Hi, I'm Carl. You wanna beer?"
"Why not," I answered, wondering
who the hell the guy was . He was
friendly enough, but to find a strange
guy in the kitchen drinking a beer in
the early hours of the morning was a
"I'm Linda's "brother-in-law.
You must he Steve."
"Yeah, I don't feel much like
him this morning, hut I must he."
"I know what you mean. We
flew in from California yesterday,
and I feel like shit, when it's cold."
The town was having its annual
festival, just like every other town
in Illinois has a "Something-Fest"
on one weekend or another. For
Linda's family, it was a reunion of
sorts, family, plus enyone else that
decided to show up. Good thing,
because I wasn't family.
"Linda said you're a nice guy,"
Carl stated, tipping the Miller.
"Is she right?"
I raised the Miller in answer.
"Not until I get a swallow of this."
Carl grinned, and said, "I
hear ya, man."
"Any "body else awake?" I yawned.
Carl yawned, shrugged, then
farted. I decided Carl was all right,
I'm not sure why, he just was.
Linda walked into the kitchen,
looking first at me, then at Carl,
then at the open beer. "How can you
guys drink that stuff in the morning?"
"With our mouths," Carl answered.
Yep , Carl was all right .
Linda walked over and sat on my Ian.
God, it was early to have someone sit on
anybody's lap. She softly nibbled on my
ear, then stated, "I take it you're ^eelins:
"A bit. You wanna beer?"
"That depends, do you want to clean un
the mess?" It took a while for the questio:
to sink in, but once it did, a "No" es-
caped quickly. I didn't want to think abcu-
what would happen if I had answered "yes."
Things began to happen quickly. I
met Barb, Linda's sister, with the intro-
duction by Carl of "This is my wife. She
threw up last night and clogged up the
sink." Good stuff hefore hreakf ast ,
I shaved, carefully, and I emphasize
the word carefully, then showered. Damn
it, it was cold. I dried myself quickly,
then dressed even more quickly. Breakfast,
which hung like a low fog on a long, low
stretch of flat stomach followed. Sonet bin;
ahout heavy-duty breakfast food that has
always made my throat shrink, so as to pre-
vent violation hy pancakes and such.
Church! Aha, church! Yeah, it
scared me too, hut I went, and I watched
the devout Christians nod off at irregular
intervals. I had been described as non-
denominational, almost as bad as a man with
tits, but I listened, and might have sang
a song or two, hut I didn't know the words,
and I figured ad-lih was definitely out
of the question, although some of the
melodies were catchy.
A quick change, and it was time for
volleyhall. No screw around games here,
serious stuff, this central Illinois vol-
leyball. Carl was good, but I guess
people living in California should he good
volleyhall players, otherwise, why live
in California. It was very unintentional
that I spiked the hall into Carl's fore-
head, three times. Carl only counted the
fourth, which I did on purpose.
"You owe me a beer for that one ! "
"You got it."
That cheered him. Like I said, Carl
was all right.
Okay, Food Time. What can I say?
I am a bigger person, and bigger people
desire bigger portions — of everything. I
pigged out, and it felt great. Steak on
If There's No Fire, continued
the grill, I would eat it anytime, and
feel great about it. So I did. Then —
It was time to head downtown,
and I say that because most of the town
was down an enormous hill , which made
the town area downtown. Sounds logical,
right? That's what I thought, besides,
that's where the bars were, and Carl
wanted to hit the bars. I was in no
mood to argue. Carl had one coming
Carl had two on me, then I had two
on Carl, then he had two on me, then
I had two more on him. It was a good
thing Linda had a lot to talk about with
her sister, because, otherwise, they
would have seen a guy from California and
a guy from Joliet dancing on their knees.
I thought we were fairly good at it.
I don't think Linda or Barb appreciated
the art form, but we did.
Somewhere between lower leg joint
grinding, in a quiet moment, Linda con-
fided, "You are so weird, but you're
so good at it." We danced to a slow
song, closely, and I enjoyed it a lot.
Carl was off somewhere on his- knees
again, so we decided to take a walk.
We walked, held hands, and after
repeated glances over my shoulder down
the dark streets, Linda finally giggled
and requested, "Would you please relax?
We're not in Joliet, you know."
We walked a little farther when,
suddenly, she stopped, spinning me into
a hug. Linda looked into my eyes,
corny line right? Linda looked at my
eyes, and said, "Steve, I have
something to tell you." She had mentioned
an old boyfriend before and here it
goes, I thought, the "I still want to
be friends," speech. The muscles in
my arms tensed and I prepared, then
said, "Go ahead."
She looked at me steadily, then
said, "I love you."
"What?" It was the best I could
"I said, 'I love you. '"
I was quiet for a while. Perhaps
a little too quiet. Linda asked,
"So, how do you feel?"
"Honestly, I thought you were about
to dump me."
She laughed. "No, don't laugh,
I really thought you were going to dump
me," I stated.
We sat down on a street curb. I
had thought of the possibility of this
conversation sometime in the future, but,
for now, I was speechless. For some un-
explainable reason, I couldn't return the
emotional expression, even though
Linda was probably the nicest woman I
have or had ever met .
Instead, I found myself giving the
same speech that I had expected a few
minutes earlier, the "It's too soon for
me — I care a lot about you — I want to
see you again — I r m just not ready to say
love yet" B. S. speech. The one that
sounds lame no matter how articulate
the presentation. I meant every word,
but it even sounded like B. S. to me.
We walked silently back to the house,
then quietly said, "Good night."
The next morning, as I threw my stuff
into the car, Linda came down to say
goodbye and call me, and let's get to-
gether again. We kissed, then promised
to call each other.
I was ready to leave when Carl came
down to the car. He didn't look happy,
but I had to go with what I thought was
right. He held out his hand, and after
considering the wisdom of doing so, I
clasped it firmly and shook it.
Carl looked at me, shook his head,
then said, "Linda told me about last
night." He paused, then added, "You
know what probably would have happened
if you would have lied to her?"
"Yeah, I know, but I also know how
I would have felt this morning about it."
"You know, Linda trusts people
easily, sometimes too much, but in your
case, she was right."
"You are a nice guy."
"Yeah!" I said, looking at my
dashboard. I shook his hand again,
and left to his parting, "Take care."
Maybe I was a nice buy, but, somehow,
on the long drive home, I just couldn't
shake ike feeling that I had just lost some-
thing important, someone important, and
despite the parting promises and good
intentions, as it turned out, I had.
I guess that's a chance you take
when you play by your own rules.
Noise, I hear noise. Mum-
bles and a crash. Eventual reali-
zation, the clock-radio is on. It
screams, "I'm back in the saddle
again!" Oh God, Aerosmith at 8:00
a.m. Maybe it will go away. "I'm
back in the saddle again!" It isn't
The fog of sleep lifts slowly,
leaving its sediment in my mouth. I
suck in vain to produce moisture,
then give up and turn on the bedroom
light. I yawn, then stumble to the
bathroom with a finger in my left eye,
no moisture there either.
I flip on the bathroom light
and glance in the mirror. "Oh, man,"
I say aloud. I point at the strange
face in the mirror and, shaking my
finger, say, "Man, you look awful."
I shake my head in disgust, then turn,
scratch my head, and bend to turn on
the water for a shower. My foot slips,
and the front of my knee makes sharp
contact with the edge of the tub.
"Shit! Shit! Shit!" I growl
through clenched teeth. Morning vul-
garity has always seemed the most
profound to me.
The water on, I prepare myself
mentally for the physical anguish that
usually accompanies the manly art of
shave thy face. Wet thy face, squirt
goop in hand, rub over thy face, and
scrape thy face with an extremely sharp
metal alloy blade. Scrape, scrape,
scrape, blood. Scrape, scrape,
scrape, blood. The manly ritual al-
most always results in drawing blood,
but twice isn't bad, especially when
in a hurry.
A quick wipe with a towel and
it's dental hygiene, time. I'm not
sure why it is impossible to brush
teeth without looking into a mirror
to see a silly looking face with froth
dribbling from the mouth. For me, it
No thought involved, it is shower
time. After five years, I know exact-
ly where to set the knobs and exactly
how long to wait before stepping in.
The temperature is perfect. My
eyes begin to open, although they
would have been extremely useful while
shaving. Thoughts begin to form. Damn
soap is too small. I am overwhelmed by an
urge to sing a song. Too bad I don't know
any. "La-de-da, Sail on, sail on, la-de-da,
wish I knew the words.
Time check? I am going to be late
Out of the shower. Damn it's cold
out here. Towel wrapped around body. Still
cold, body awake. Mind semi-conscious.
Dry that body,
Dry it now.
Gotta make money
Comb that hair
and let it dry.
Gotta sell somethin' ,
I'm not sure why!
Seventy hours a week for five years is
getting to me. "Don't think, you late.
You go work now. " Inner voice lacks in-
telligence, but is correct. Time to dress.
1. Underwear v'
2. Socks v^
3 . Pant s v
h . Shirt S
5- Shoes v/
7. Wallet, Comb ^^
Keys Change i/V
8 . Bubblegum \S
Time check? "Shit, I'm late."
Keys out of pocket and out - the back
door. Double check on back door — locked.
Lights still on? Tough.
I step in a puddle, bad for the shoes.
Key is in the car door lock. ■ The door is
open. I step in and sit down. Door
closes. Engine starts third try, like every
day. Car backs out. Time for kiddie check.
No targets present. Proceed with all
available haste. I turn the radio on. A
voice tells me that it is a beautiful
day outside. Doesn't matter, I won't
Things begin to pass by, flying things,
driving things, growing things. Just a bunc
of damn things in my way to assure that I
won't make it to work on time today either.
"Old man, move your car faster.
You're delaying my contribution to the
Missing Me, continued
United States G. N. P. I could drive
this route in my sleep." Intense
realization, I probably have.
I plug a tape into my cassette
player, doesn't matter what it is.
Okay, avoid the idiot slowing down.
Nice Chevelle ahead, used to have one,
years ago. Getting close to Crank-Em-Out
headquarters. It's bubble gum time. Bos-
ton tape from 1973. It has been playing
'for ten minutes and I've just noticed.
Bubblegum tastes flat today, but
it keep the mouth moving. Salesmen
need a constantly moving mouth, it's
an unwritten rule. I wonder how much
garbage I can sell today to people that
don't really need it. We get bonus
points for selling a product that is
more expensive than the customer actual-
ly needs. I've been getting a lot of
bonus points lately. That scares me.
I pull into the parking lot of
Crank-Em-Out headquarters and park. Time
check? Watch reads 9:22. I've still
got eight minutes until 9:00. I set
my watch a half -hour ahead as a mor-
ning motivational aid.. My God! I've
got eight minutes of freedom. What
I think about the offer for promo-
tion. Ah, for an extra five hours a
week I can get a raise and rise a step
on the corporate ladder. I wonder how
many more people I'll have to screw.
Probably just people in my present po-
sition and below. I stare through the
dashboard for a long moment, listening
to Boston's "A Man I'll Never Be."
Time check? 9:25. Maybe if I
work here another ten years, they'll
let me work a hundred hours a week.
Then I'll probably have to screw
everybody. That's a far cry from 1979
when I was fired for answering a
question. The man asked, "What's the
difference between this camera and
that one for a hundred dollars less?"
"Besides the price? Not much," I
answered. It was the truth.
Anyway, I survived. What time is
it? 9:27. What day is it? Doesn't
matter. What God damn month is it?
Uh. Yeah, I survived. My hair is
thinning, but big deal, I've got
money in the bank and the vice-president
of the company likes me. He calls me
Hot-Shot , and slaps me on the back every
time I come through for him. Sales are
far ahead of schedule, so I deserve to
work seventy-five hours a week. He likes
me. He likes me because . . . because he
can screw me. He must get bonus points
Well, it's 9:29 by my watch. De-
finitely a far cry from 1978. I look in
the mirror, turn up the volume, wink and
smile. Not a salesman smile, a me smile.
I'm sure it is a spontaneous decision.
No, on second thought, it isn't that
spontaneous , at all .
Casually, I turn the key in the ig-
nition. The car starts third try, like
always. I pull out of the parking lot
and stop at the stop sign. I raise my
imaginary toast to Crank-Em-Out head-
quarters, then turn onto the highway.
The me-smile is still there. The voice
from the radio was right. It is a
beautiful day — NOW!
JE ME CHERCHE PAR TU
Je me cherche par tu
In places throughout, the
world where I can only
be in spirit. Je me
cherche. par tu in
everyone I meet
searching their eyes
to find you in their
soul. Je me cherche
par .tu in myself
to only find I cannot
see you. Je me cherche
par tu will I ever
find you waiting for me?
It didn't surprise her.
What did surprise her was the fact
that it had been going on for so long,
Intimate Stranger*; continued
unnoticed. She had always prided
herself on being discerning, ob-
serving, aware. Shaking her head, she
wondered aloud, "How could I have
missed the signals?"
She glanced quickly at the rear
view mirror as she changed lanes and
saw a pair of tired eyes staring back
at her. She had slept little last
night and was anticipating a busy
day. "Damn him!" she swore at her
reflection. "Damn him and his lousy
sense of timing."
She braked for the stop light and
stared absently out the car window.
She noticed a young couple, obviously
in love, walking, floating, down the
sidewalk. He walked backwards as
if he couldn't bear to miss, even
for a second, the chance to watch
her, all of her. His hands tugged
gently at the tassled ends of the
red muffler draped loosely around
her neck. They laughed together,
oblivious to the world around them-
"Was it ever really that simple?"
she asked herself. "And why does this
have to happen now?"
She tried to remember a time
when they had been truly happy.
Satisfied. Content just to be to-
gether. . Just to be a couple. It
seemed so long ago.
She thought about the night they
had graduated from high school.
She closed her eyes and saw the
royal blue caps being tossed high
into the air. She heard their shouts
of joy. She felt again that thrill
of anticipation, that wonder at the
unknown, that naive confidence in a
bright future. She grinned as she
recalled the party afterwards and
the pink toilet paper streamers dang-
ling from the tall oak trees in Old
Lady Rainey's front yard. After
all these years , the memory of their
coup still amused her. They had
spent hours planning their strategy
and their plans had paid off. They
had earned the recognition and re-
spect of the entire graduating
class when word spread that the two
of them, together, had successfully
tee-peed the principal's yard. Yes,
she remembered, they had made a
good team ...then.
The sudden sound of a car horn rudely
interrupted her reverie. She looked up at
the light, now green, and pulled out into
the steady stream of traffic.
As she raced to the office, thoughts
raced through her mind: thoughts of college,
of dorm parties, of panty raids, or rap
sessions that had kept them awake until four
in the four in the morning - , still more
thoughts of eager hands, groping, searching
for something else, something more, in the
back seat of his Cutlass Supreme. Her
mind jumped to English 103 and she rememberec
with a special sense of pride their ioint
presentation comparing the literary trends
of the American and English Renaissance.
They had both received an "A," she thought,
somewhat proudly. What was it Professor
Tierney. had said? Oh yes... "you two com-
pliment each other well."
As she passed Marie's Bridal Shoppe,
she saw a mannequin dressed in virginal
white, smiling at passers-by, promising mari-
tal bliss to any young bride wise enough or
rich enough to choose one of Marie's
latest original designs. She stifled a
giggle as she recalled her mother's well-
meaning advice to her new son-in-law that
night at their elaborate wedding reception.
"Be gentle," she had counseled, "she's so
young, and she doesn't know much about ...
you know. " The two of them had later
roared with laughter at her mother's un-
necessary concern. "We were good to-
gether," she muttered, "even in bed.
Especially in bed."
She applied the brakes as a school
crossing guard stepped boldly into the
rush-hour traffic. He resembled a well-
dressed scarecrow as he took a protective
stance in the middle of the busy inter-
section. The car idled as children of var-
ious shapes and sizes safely crossed the
street . "Were our own two ever that
small?" she wondered. She pictured the
night the twins had been born and her eyes
filled with tears , as they had that night
when the docotr handed to her a perfect
little girl, and to the proud new father,
a tiny new son. "You two should do this
again sometime," he had teased. "You
do good work. "
"And we did," she mused. "We really
She startled suddenly as the guard's
loud whistle broke into her reflective
czea taat 5-9 ' 1 cet-rer aurry ic sae
■ ""siisi cc be ca tine for her first
As she aeared The office, she re-
~iac.ec. herself that ia some "ways ohe years
had ""po*^ --av*v ~ o c j "co t^en. PheY aad
pursued successful , if separate, careers,
a~ i ""oi^ vava veil— "**esr ec~ e i ia Their
chosen professions. It vas true that
They had grown ia different directions,
cut having made their choices, they'd
accected the consequences and had gradu-
ally become indifferent to the cost.
"The children "both turned out veil,"
she consoled herself and thought longing-
ly of her iaughrer, vac vas enjoying
her vork as a congressional aide and
:er sen, who had he
In her mind, she could see their
expeasively-furnisaed hone and pro-
fessionally landscaped lawn and knev
Thar she and her husband vere envied by
-any of their unknowing neighbors.
"If they only knev," she said as she
pulled into her reserved parking spot.
Moments later, she caught sight of
herself reflected in the elevator uiir-
orr. "la.~-.ri him," she cursed again
as she examined the dark shadovs under-
aeath her eyes. "Why did he choose last
night to confess this affair of his?
I just can't deal vith this right
now. I have enough problems to handle
She set her chin and squared her
shoulders as she stepped from the eleva-
tor and -walked down the carpeted hall
to her office.
She heard greetings of "Morning,
Doctor," and smiled brightly as she
pushed open the door narked Associated
Marriage and Family Counselors. Tossing
her hair, she responded light, "Good
morning, all. The doctor is in."
HEAR THE MUSIC
hear the music
feel it touch your soul
the history of man flies
through the air on waves of sound
a message from soul to soul
hear the players
feel them make you dance
hear the drums
feel their pain
made of the skins of human slaves
they beat out the rhythm
of the work,- the blood, the sveat,
the heart beats of the drums
enslaves the dancers and
drives them into frenzy
hear the violins
feel their tears
their strings mourn for the unjustly killed
battered down in fear
battered down in confusion
hear the painful tears come down from all
feel the pain as it mades the dancers
hear the music
feel it touch your soul.
THE DESIRE TO RACE
Margie wanted to race labor Day in
Moline, but what vould dad say?
She was already faced with the fact
that Roger, her brother, complained all
the time she trained with him. It was
hard eno*3h to get time to train, and dad
wouldn't let her ride with anyone else.
last time whe went out with Roger and
his bike racer friends, she couldn't keep
the pace, and got dropped, separated from
the others. She'd biked the fifteen miles
home by herself. When dad found out that
Roger let her ride home alone, he'd
gotten mad at Roger, and Roger was even
less willing to have her along.
The Desire to Race, continued
Fourteen-year-old Margie never
understood why dad didn't let her do
things that sixteen-year-old Roger
could. Dad was unwavering in his
position. "Girls do not race on
Margie tried arguing her point,
but she never won. Dad's old-
fashioned views seemed unchangable.
"Whadya expect?" Roger 'd shouted
at her after dad chewed him out.
"I told you those racer guys didn't
stop when people didn't keep up,"
and he'd gone off in a huff. His
younger sister was a big crybaby any-
way. The only reason she came was
because his riding buddy, Mike
Trancher, invited her. Trancher didn't
have any sisters and he didn't know
what he was asking for. Roger had
tried to warn him. He'd tried to warn
Margie too, but no, she had come.
Unknown to her dad, Margie had
raced in a time trial this summer. A
time trial is a race against the clock.
The event was part of a day of races
held in Chrystal Lake, Illinois. Most
of the races were for licensed riders,
like Roger and Trancher — that ' s who
she went with. But the time trial
was for unlicensed riders. Margie
figured because it was a time trial,
she wasn't actually racing with others,
but she still hadn't told dad.
She kept telling herself she was wait-
ing for the right moment.
Both Margie and Roger had been
riding since they were youngsters.
Dad ran the Schmitty's Bike Shop in
Muscatine, Iowa. His kids were
raised around bikes and biking was
as natural to them as walking. Be-
cause they'd spent summers in the
shop, both of his children knew a
great deal about bike repair. Mar-
gie knew other kids her age were
into rock groups and albums, but
not her. She was too busy fixing
bikes, studying bike catalogs and
reading about her favorite bike racers.
Summers, especially May and June,
Roger and Margie went downtown in the
mornings to work at the shop. New-
comers, who traded at the bike shop in
Muscatine, were always surprised to see
a young slender girl with long, ions; hair
working in the store. Margie would come to
the front counter to wait on customers
with a cheery toss of her long braids
and a grin that lit up her hazel eyes . She
wore shorts, but a tool apron covered them
and she was oblivious to the stares that
her trim legs attracted.
This summer had been a slow one a~ the
shop. Another bike shop opened in the
new mall. Maybe because it was a good lo-
cation, or who knows what, it had taken some
of Schmitty's business.
The town was hardly big enough to
support one bike shop, let alone two.
Dad just shook his head whenever talk of. .
the new shop came up. He never related
his disapproval, but his close-lipped si-
lence on the matter spoke loud enough.
Margie could never remember her dad
being in this kind of mood. As always,
he was extremely formal and polite, and
precise. But this summer, he seemed to
be working under pressure. He was fre-
quently short-tempered with Margie and
His children's escape came in late
afternoon, when work was over. They'd
Today, the freewheels on the bicycles
hummed as the tires contacted the pave-
ment. Margie could only concentrate on
the back of her brother's bike and the
narrow distance needed to catch his draft.
Drafting, a racing technique, required
concentration. She noted Roger's every ■
movement to keep from running into him.
By keeping this close she benefitted from
the wind break created by the front rider ' s
momentum knifing through the air. She
could keep up with him, while he worked all
the harder out in front against the wind.
The four-mile trip home was trans-
portation as much as it was training.
Margie slowed and caught her breath the
last few blocks before home. Trancher was
in the yard in his biking jersey and cleats
waiting for Roger.
"Hello Short stuff ," he said when he
saw Margie, and he grinned. His freckles
seemed to have multiplied across his face
this summer. "You riding with us today?"
Margie was secretly pleased.
"It depends on Roger. I don't know
what kind of mood he's in."
The Desire to Race, continued
Roger .just shrugged when asked, so
feeling like she'd been given a reprieve,
Margie, excitedly trailed behind the boys
as they rode to the outskirts of town.
One of their favorite routes was
eleven mile on county roads. It was here
they took turns leading a draft line
to break the warm, southwest wind.
"Geez, it's hot," thought Margie,
as they pulled in a gas station parking
lot where they refilled on water from
an outside faucet.
Margie could feel the sweat drip
out from under her helmet .
"How ya doing?" Trancher looked
at her .
Margie noticed even the' end of his
upturned freckled nose had a sweat drop
hanging on to it. Margie nodded.
"Okay." But her okay was raspy.
She needed more time to catch her breath.
"Let's go easy on into Wilton.
We'll turn around there and go back,"
Margie blinked her eyes incredu-
lously. Her knees still felt like
jelly now that she was off the bike.
"Hey," said Margie, "I thought you guys
were going to do a moderate workout.
What is a moderate workout?" She let her
breath out in a long pant.
Trancher smiled with a look of
feigned surprise and said, "Margie, we
were going slow so you cold keep up,"
and he let out a big guffaw.
At first Margie was taken. Then
she realized he was kidding. In spite
of catching her breath, she grabbed
her water bottle and shot a stream of
water at him.
"That's how slow I am, Trancher."
He ducked and rolled away. In
turn, he snatched the water bottle off
his bicycle and set his bicycle down.
He twisted sideways avoiding the second
stream from her water bottle. Margie
moved and yelped as his jet of water
hit her. Just as a second thought,
Margie shot water at Roger who had been
laughing. He, too, grabbed his water
bottle and the fight was on.
In the midst of corn fields near
at the intersection of Sontag and
Fahrner Roads, a water fight took
place. The three participants, all in
bright shirts and dark shorts, fought
with water weapons until laughter stop-
ped them. The participant who got the
wettest was the shortest and the only
girl. The three mounted bikes and head-
ed north on Sontag Road. The few wet
spots on the pavement dried almost before
the riders were out of sight.
"You going down to the shop,
Roger?" Roger was sitting in the break-
fast nook with a bowl of Cheerios and
was reading the latest edition of "Bike
Racing News." Mom said when they came
in dad called. He was getting backlogged
on some new bike orders .
"Rog," Margie's voice tone
grew when she realized he had not heard
what she said, "Are you gonna go down
and help Dad?"
He answered without even looking
up . "Why don ' t you go . "
With a look of exasperation,
Margie finished combing her nearly dry
hair and braided it down her back.
"Ma," she shouted to her mother,
who was in the back of the house. "I'm
going down to help dad." Margie never
heard her mom' s faint "Okay" because
she was already out the side door.
Margie held a brownie from the bakery
in one hand and wheeled her bike in
through the back screened door of the bike
shop with the other. The wood door had
many greasy finger marks along its
exterior. Over the years, tons of
kids and their bikes, and parents and their
kid's bikes had come in through the "back
door of the shop. Margie parked her bike in cm
out of the way place and shouted to dad
that she had arrived.
Dad was out in front with a customer.
"Hellow Margie," he answered with a big
"Sounds like the mood is good,"
She went and got her tool apron off
the hook. She craned her neck from the
bike stand and wondered who her dad
was talking to. She could only see the
gentleman's green shirt, and muscular
arms. He was a distinctive recl^CA4
When he turned to face dad as dad
got behind the counter, she could see
his tan. Dad was discussing the Labor
Day Bike Race. But who was that? He
looked older than Roger and he was not
one of the fellows Roger raced with.
The Desire To Race, continued
He had a square angular face. He looked
towards her standing in the rear work
area, and she caught with the vague
feeling that he was nice looking. He
smiled, it was more a grin, hack at her,
and she realized she'd been staring.
She looked away and proceeded to wonder
if he was watching her change a tire.
She was still putting the tire on
when dad came into the workroom .
"Oh, your customer's gone," said
Margie, with feigned interest.
"He left ten minutes ago," said
Dad. "He was interested in a cyclo
computer. He's apparently from Connecti-
cut. He raced in college. Sounds
like he wants to enter the Labor Day
For the first time in quite a while,
Margie could see Dad in more relaxed
mood. He smiled and hummed a bit under
his breath. Margie was always amazed
at Dad's great enthusiasm for racing.
"What else did he say?" Margie
was interested in finding out who the
nice-looking racer was.
"He's visiting the bank on a sort
of business internship, from some school
in Illinois. I can't remember where."
The details of this person's life
weren't half as important to Dad as
the idea that the customer was a bicycle
"Dad," she hesitated for a moment.
"I know you're taking Roger down to
Moline for the biker ide on Labor Day.
Are you taking anyone else?" This real-
ly wasn't what she wanted to know. But
it was a place somewhere to start.
Dad was already at the other bike-
stand concentrating on the wheel he was
working on. Margie wasn't sure if he
was listening any longer.
The boys were Roger's racing bud-
dies. Other years, "the boys" had been
the group of young riders that hung
around the bikeshop. The. faces changed
through the years as the boys grew up.
Some of the young fathers in town were
already bringing their little boys to
the shop to buy them BMX bikes , so
that some day the youngsters would be
Schmitty's boys too.
Roger grew up into membership in
"the boys." It was natural — he knew
about bikes and rode as well or better
But Margie was a girl. That made a
difference. She was becoming a fine
mechanic and good rider but Dad didn't like
her riding with the boys. Time after tine
he assigned Roger to "keep an eye on your
sister." Roger hated it. If only she
could prove herself. That's why Trancher
was a nice change. He really acted like
he thought she rode well.
"Dad," Margie started off again,
"You don't care if I go with. you to
Moline, do you?"
"If there's room, you could go."
Kurt Schmitz glanced at his daughter and
realized there was more to the question.
From the repair stand he looked over
his glasses at her. "Margie, I won't sign
the form for you to ride. You need par-
"But Dad, I'm as good or better
than most of the girls in those races. I
know it . "
"Settle down, Margie. How do you
know it? You never rode."
Margie bit her lip. She could feel
the tears under her eyelids. "Dad, I
know because I was in a time trial at
Chrystal Lake. I took third in my age
group . "
Dad bristled at the news. "Margie, I
told you racing was out. How could you
race knowing how I felt?"
"It was a time trial, Dad. I was
racing the clock, not anyone else."
Now defiance was creeping into her
voice. "Besides Dad, Roger always gets
chances. But no, I'm a girl, so I .just
get stuck fixing these stupid bikes."
She looked with disgust at the tire
in her hands.
Silence came between them. Dad look-
ed at his daughter as if analyzing a bi-
cycle before declaring it fit to ride.
She was small, but sturdy. He let out
his breath with a sigh.
"So you've time trial ed, but only
once. Even with the girls, especially
with the girls, someone's always getting
hurt . "
Margie looked up. This was the furth-
est the discussion ever got. That was
"Dad, please, you know I'm a careful
rider. How can I get better if I never do
it? Please, Dad, just this once."
The Desire to Race, continued
And Dad could feel his resolve
fade. "I told you not to race. I'm
really mad that you did. I'm going to
ground you for that . I think I know-
how had you want to, hut that's no
excuse for doing something I told you not
to do." He searched for the last word.
"Margie, I will be in charge of your
"You mean you will help me train... for
a race! "
A young girl's joyous shrieks came
from Schmitty's Bicycle Shop. Inside a
hounding daughter jumped and hugged her
dad all at the same time. Her head hit his
"We will see," he said, smiling and
rubbing his jaw. "He'll see about the race.
One ste"D at a time here."
I will take you as you are,
Whether you hover close,
Or run beyond range.
There exist sinners and so-called
Redeemers but No One, may demand
Solely to satisfy complacent interests,
I see you sitting, peering skyward,
Drenched in a self-made tear-pool
Of greed and egotism.
We both weep and cry out,
As starved as the day longing for
And the night for the moon.
But I will accept you always,
Without a change.
I must dry my brow so to be
Barely worthy enough to look you in
My addictions are not
of the normal genre.
It ' s not the lust of
alcohol or the intensity
of drugs. Devotion it
is to the realities I
have created to which
others have dissipated.
Surrendering my soul
to delve into the
subjects others feel
apprehensive of. An oddity
perhaps to some, who
cannot understand or
feel. Reaching into the
back of my brain for
those little things which
have become living nightmares,
DON'T TRUST ME
Don't trust me, tiny bird.
You perch meekly on my finger
You think I'll take good care of you.
What if I, with one swift thrust,
Slam your fragile body flat against
the wall in my anger?
Or worse yet, tear your precious wings off
In my frustration with life,
While you scream in agony?
— But I won ' t .
You make me love you when you imitate me
With little squeaking noises of happiness
You know I'm a pushover for the sweets in life,
NO OTHER YEAR QUITE LIKE IT
in© ©their mm ©PITE LJIICE it
HOLD ON TO ALL
AS WE CANNOT
LOST OR BROKEN
HAMSTER A BATH
HE LOOKS DIRTY
MOOD RING OAY
OAY IN AMERICA
NOT A GOOD OAY
ATTACK OF THE
'BOUT TIME TO
FEED THE SUCKER
THE SAFETY ANO
THE FOOD ISN'T
THE HELPFUL AND
WICKER IS IN
IT SEEMED LIKE A
GOOD THING TO
00 AT THE TIME
BETTER GET OUT
THE GRILL BEFORE
HE LOSES TO
BE A PIG DRY
GO AHEflO. BUY
THE LAST PACK
OONUTS AT THE
00 THIS TOOAY:
OfHNK OUT OF THE
ON CHANNEL 60
DRINK ALL THE
COLO WATER AT A
TAKE 12 ITEMS
INTO A 10 ITEMS
OR LESS LANE
AND WRITE A
LAST OAY TO BE
BETTER STEBl A
SEAT FROM AN
OLD LADY ON THE
THIS DAY LEFT
TIME TO GET A
WILL NEVER BE
SON OF THE
ATTACK OF THE
FROM HELL OAY
WE HOPE YOU
STEP AS WE GO
W. A. Kahle
Deep in a crowd
one soul spies
on the lights and voices
chanting with a fanatic speaker.
Wave your hands —
Twist your elbow —
Jump and scream,
Live a riotous dream: hedonize.
Nothing makes sense
hut if the people inside
papier mache bodies *.**#*###
sorted out the lies from truth
not a fire would flare
on the channel five news
Iran might change their mind
or arsonists would set
the blowtorch aside
for an unbiased opinion
the nation could accomplish
senility so fast.